Indeed, US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a written statement on the UN vote, in which he claimed that the end of the PMD investigation would in no measure limit the world’s ability to investigate ongoing nuclear activities inside the Islamic Republic.
“Today’s resolution makes clear that the IAEA’s Board of Governors will be watching closely to verify that Iran fully implements its commitments under the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action],” Kerry said in reference to the Iran nuclear agreement, according to Reuters. “We will remain intensely focused going forward on the full implementation of the JCPOA in order to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”
The viability of this approach has, however, been disputed by some expert commentators on the situation, including former International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director Olli Heinonen, who said that the remaining gaps in the IAEA investigation into past military dimensions will make it more difficult for the UN nuclear watchdog to identify and properly investigate violations in the future.
While Kerry’s statement seems to imply an understanding that the Islamic Republic may indeed attempt to cheat, many critics of the Obama administration have insisted that its policies are indicative of an excess of trust in Iran’s intentions. This perceived naivety has also been attributed to the arguably tepid response to Iran’s two confirmed ballistic missile tests since the conclusion of nuclear negotiations. These have been cited by critics as further evidence of Iran’s disinterest in genuine change.
The seriousness of these criticisms was underlined on Tuesday when The Tower reported that a UN Panel of Experts had concluded last week that the October test of an Emad-class ballistic missile was a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, as various officials had individually claimed.
Paragraph nine of UNSCR 1929 states, “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”
This resolution remains in place until the JCPOA is fully implemented, and will then be replaced by resolution 2231 governing the nuclear deal, which imposes similar restrictions for a period of eight years.
If the October test has been confirmed to be a violation of these resolutions, the same conclusion will almost certainly be drawn regarding the November test of a Ghadr-110 ballistic missile, which, like its predecessor, is quite capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, although Tehran claims that this is not the purpose of its design.
Although the Obama administration has been sharply criticized for a weak response to these perceived provocations, Reuters reported on Tuesday that White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said the administration would not rule out the possibility of a stronger response and would not stand in the way if other US officials determined that it was necessary to impose sanctions to discourage further such tests.