On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a warning to Iran about three planned space rocket launches, saying such actions would violate U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which was a resolution endorsing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the nuclear program of Iran. That resolution urged Iran to eschew activities related to ballistic missiles that are ready to deliver nuclear weapons.
Pompeo asserted that Iran had announced plans to launch Space Launch Vehicles (SLV) that utilize ballistic missile technology. He stated, “The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regime’s destructive policies place international stability and security at risk. We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation. … The United States has continuously cautioned that ballistic missile and SLV launches by the Iranian regime have a destabilizing effect on the region and beyond. France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and many nations from around the world have also expressed deep concern.”
Reuters reported, “Pompeo said Iran has launched ballistic missiles numerous times since the U.N. resolution was adopted. He said it test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads on Dec. 1. In July 2017, Iran launched a rocket it said could deliver a satellite into space, an act the U.S. State Department called provocative. Earlier that month, the United States slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program.”
Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of Iran, fired back at Pompeo on Twitter, stating that the United States had no right to slam Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, writing, “Iran’s launch of space vehicles— & missile tests—are NOT in violation of Res 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it. Reminder to the US: 1. Res 1929 is dead; 2. threats engender threats, while civility begets civility.
Zarif’s tweet prompted Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to alert former Secretary of State John Kerry, who had championed the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry had claimed that Resolution 2231 would restrain Iran. Dubowitz wrote, “So @JohnKerry. What say you to @JZarif? He thinks JCPOA gave the green light to Iran’s missile testing by ending 1929. He thinks the ‘calls upon’ language in 2231 is a joke. You & other parties to JCPOA thought 2231 was a restraint. Who’s correct? You or Zarif?”
In August 2015, after the Iran deal had been signed, Kerry boasted that the nuclear deal had restrained Iran, saying, “And that is why we say Israel, all of the Gulf states, everybody in the region – we, the United States, who have our own security concerns – are safer with this deal than without it. Because if you don’t do this deal, folks, not only will we have walked away from our allies – Britain, France, Germany – and non-allies but interested parties – Russia, China – we will have lost the moral imperative, if you will, or high ground. We will have left Iran free to go do its program without restraints, without inspections, without knocking down its stockpile, without knowing what they’re doing.”