Iran’s Other Scary Weapons ProgramSee? The New York Times can be hawkish when it needs to be!
The United States should lift sanctions on Iran; no, it should impose new sanctions on Iran. The short answer is that the Obama administration should do both.
The sanctions imposed to press Iran to negotiate curbs on its nuclear program should be lifted as promised when the recent nuclear agreement goes into effect, maybe as early as next week. The Obama administration is wisely planning a separate set of new sanctions in response to Iran’s two recent tests of ballistic missiles, which violated United Nations resolutions.
...Iran is advancing the range and mobility of its ballistic missiles and vowing to accelerate production. Most worrisome is a collaboration with North Korea, which has nuclear weapons and provided Iran with many of its first missiles, and still supplies key components. A recent Congressional Research Service report called their cooperation “significant and meaningful.”
In October, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran would walk away from the nuclear deal if new sanctions of any kind were imposed. But the administration has been clear that even after the most onerous sanctions are lifted under the nuclear deal, it would enforce those pertaining to Iran’s missile, terrorism and human rights activities. The nuclear deal lifts United Nations ballistic missile sanctions on Iran within eight years, but American sanctions on firms that sell arms to Iran will remain.
The administration told Congress that missile-related sanctions were coming, then held back, infuriating many lawmakers. While the delay was not explained, this is a delicate moment, and it may make sense to wait because Iran is on the verge of implementing the nuclear deal. Also, an Iranian official told Reuters last week that negotiations are again underway on the possible release of the Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and other Americans held by Iran. Another complication is the recent worsening of the conflict between Shiite-majority Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia.So the US should threaten sanctions that are supposedly separate from the nuclear program, but shouldn't actually implement any of them because of the threat that Iran might walk away from the nuclear program agreement that is completely separate.
New sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missiles must still be pursued. The people and agencies most responsible for Iran’s program were hit with sanctions years ago; the new measures would add 11 new individuals and entities to a long list. That should not be so onerous that Iran would walk away from the economic relief it stands to gain from the nuclear deal. And it is an important and necessary way of keeping pressure on Iran to cease its unacceptable activities.
Don't worry about Iran's cooperation with North Korea on an illicit nuclear program. Everything is cool on that front. Only worry about Iran's cooperation with North Korea over an illicit ballistic missiles program.
This pretzel logic is meant to justify the administration's acquiescing to Iranian demands on ballistic missile sanctions after the fact, even though we were promised beforehand the White House would never, ever mix the two issues up.