The Risk in Lifting Sanctions, and Pressure, on Iran Weapons Activities

(Wall Street Journal) Michael Singh - Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this month that "we should under no circumstances relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking." Yet under the Iran nuclear agreement, sanctions on conventional arms are to be lifted in five years and missile sanctions in eight years (possibly sooner under certain conditions). Iran has the region's largest, most advanced ballistic missile arsenal and is thought to be working on intercontinental ballistic missiles. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said this month that "The reason that we want to stop Iran from having an ICBM program is that 'I' in 'ICBM' stands for intercontinental, which means having the capability of flying from Iran to the United States." Hizbullah's attacks on Israel in 2006 were carried out using Iranian rockets and missiles. Conflicts in Yemen, Gaza, and Syria are fueled by Iranian arms. As Iran develops more advanced missiles and more sensitive nuclear technology, these capabilities, too, could be shared. If sanctions are fully lifted without Iran pledging to cease or limit its arms trafficking and ballistic missile activities, the next U.S. president will be left to find different options to counter Iranian behavior. The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2005 to 2008, he worked on Middle East issues at the U.S. National Security Council.

2015-07-22 00:00:00

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