Menendez Got It Right on Iran


U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (left) and Cory Booker.

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (left) and Cory Booker.

So far everything Senator Robert Menendez’s said about the Iran deal has proven to be true and accurate.  Iran has caused one embarrassment after another for the Obama Administration, yet the administration stubbornly refuses to admit they made a mistake as they move forward to lift the asset freeze.

While Menendez would be right to say, “I told you so,” he has not said it because on this issue he probably wishes that he was wrong.  The prospect of Iran as a nuclear superpower is a terrifying one.

In July, Senator Bob Menendez, the most outspoken Democratic Party critic of Obama’s foreign policy, voiced his strong concerns about the deal. “I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights; that Iran will be required only to limit rather than eliminate its nuclear program, while the international community will be required to lift the sanctions, and that it doesn’t provide for anytime-any-place inspections of suspected sites,” he said.

image001 (5)Sen. Menendez was one of a handful of Democrats to speak out against the Iran deal, formerly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Other critics include New York Senator Charles Schumer, ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Ben Cardin (D-ME). Gov. Chris Christie is another “man of courage” from New Jersey. While Sen. Cory Booker has stood with the President on the deal, he has also cited “its significant shortcomings.”

While opponents of the nuclear agreement don’t want to be right, it is becoming apparent that their concerns are not unfounded. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, Iran is prohibited from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In conjunction with the nuclear agreement, the UN Security Council also unanimously adopted Resolution 2231 in July. It contains an eight-year restriction on Iranian (nuclear-capable) ballistic missile activities and a five-year ban on conventional arms transfers to Iran. The Resolution specifically directs Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Nonetheless, Iran carried out a new medium range ballistic missile test in October. The U.N. Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran recently confirmed the test was in direct violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. “On the basis of its analysis and findings the Panel concludes that Emad launch is a violation by Iran of paragraph 9 of Security Council resolution 1929,” the panel said.

While the U.S. and other parties to the nuclear deal condemned the test, no official action was taken. Likely emboldened, Iran reportedlytested another missile in November. According to news reports, the latest precision missile that was tested in the Gulf of Oman is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on December 17, 2015, Sen. Menendez asked U.S. State Department officials pointed questions about how the Administration planned to address Iran’s repeated violations of the U.N. Security Council’s (UNSC) ballistic missile ban.  “Is the Administration ready to act so that Iran understands the consequences of violating the international order?” he asked.

This time around, many more of Sen. Menendez’s colleagues are speaking out. Following the ballistic missile test, 21 Democratic senators signed a letter to the President expressly serious concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile testing. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is not likely to change its position on Iran.

Donald Scarinci is a managing partner at Lyndhurst, N.J. based law firm Scarinci Hollenbeck.  He is also the editor of the Constitutional Law Reporter and Government and Law blogs.
Menendez Got It Right on Iran