The Hill October 21, 2015,
Eleven Senate Democrats are pushing the Obama administration to respond to Iran’s ballistic missile test, suggesting it could send a signal of how the White House would respond to any violations of the Iran nuclear agreement.
The senators sent a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John Kerry, saying they have “profound concern” over the long-range missile test and suggesting the administration should consider taking action either alone or with other countries.
“We are concerned about the military significance of this test, which is part of a long-term Iranian program that seeks to improve the range and capabilities of its ballistic missiles,” the senators wrote. “We are also convinced that the launch is an attempt to test the world’s will to respond to Iranian violations of its international commitments.”
United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power has said the test violated a U.N. resolution governing missile activity. Diplomats told Reuters that the United States planned to raise the issue at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. Administration officials, however, have argued that it doesn’t impact the separate deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
The Democratic senators, however, said the ability to enforce the nuclear deal “must be fortified by a zero-tolerance policy to respond to violations of the agreement and of applicable UN resolutions.”
“There must be no ambiguity in our willingness to enforce Iran’s obligations under UN resolutions and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” they wrote.
Wednesday’s letter is the latest sign of growing concern from Congress over how the Obama administration will handle the missile test from Iran.
On Monday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) called on Kerry to tighten sanctions against Iran over the missile test and pushed the administration to support an extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, which is currently set to expire next year.
Senators also sent separate letters to Kerry and President Obama last week wanting to know the administration’s strategy and questioning whether a similar test in the future would impact the nuclear agreement.
Wednesday’s letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Christopher Coons (Del.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).