Gardner Demands Administration Response to Iranian Belligerence

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) sent a letter today to President Obama laying out several recent instances of Iranian behavior violating international agreements and asking the President to respond with his Administration’s plan to hold the Iranian regime responsible for its repeated infractions. 

From General Qassem Soleimani travelling to Russia in violation of U.N. Sanctions to Iranian media reports of imminent ballistic missile tests, the Iranian regime appears to already be testing the limits of the weak nuclear agreement reached by the Administration. Additionally, statements this week by Secretary Kerry call into question the ability of the international community to hold Iran accountable for these and future violations. 

The letter reads, in full:

Dear Mr. President: 

I am extremely concerned that the Islamic Republic of Iran has already engaged in multiple violations of the letter and the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded by Iran and the P5+1 on July 14, 2015, and ask what actions the Administration intends to undertake to penalize Iran for these violations. 

On August 6, 2015, media reports indicated the General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials.  This trip appears to be in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, which imposed sanctions on Gen. Soleimani and other Iranian officials due to their ties to the Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  As you know, the JCPOA envision an 8-year timeframe before any sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program can be lifted. 

In addition to his illicit activities involving Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, General Soleimani led Iran’s efforts to supply explosive devices and other arms to Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq War. According to testimony of General Joseph Dunford, your nominee to lead the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iran is responsible for about 500 deaths of U.S. military personnel. 

Furthermore, on August 13, 2015, Iranian media also reported that Iran plans to conduct a ballistic missile test “later this year”, in potential violation of the annex to UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed the JCPOA on July 20, 2015 and in which “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” According to the Iranian press, “Iran says it has not accepted or endorsed the annex.” 

I am also troubled by Secretary Kerry’s comments to the press on August 11, 2015, when he stated that the arms embargo against Iran, which is due to be lifted in 5 years, “is not tied to snapback” of international sanctions and Iran would not be “in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it.” I find it bewildering that Iran’s compliance to this nuclear agreement will result in lifting of the arms embargo, yet the violations of the same embargo will not trigger the “snapback” of sanctions.

I believe these alarming developments are a direct result of a weak agreement that your Administration negotiated that will only empower Iran to engage in activities that undermine international security without any real consequences. 

I ask that you reply in writing outlining the Administration’s proposed actions to hold Iran accountable for the violations listed above and how the Administration intends to treat such incidents in the future. 

I look forward to your prompt response.