US calls on Europe to implement its own sanctions against Iran

Posted at 3:25 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-03 17:25:27-05

The United States is calling on the European Union to enact its own set of sanctions targeting Iran following Tehran’s test of a missile this past weekend.

“We would like to see the European Union move sanctions that target Iran’s missile program,” Brian Hook, the State Department official who oversees Iran policy, said Monday. Hook spoke during a flight with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.

Hook told reporters that the United Nations Security Council has been “consistent” for the past 12 years in telling Iran to stop testing and proliferating ballistic missiles and that Iran has been “defying the Council.”

On Saturday, Pompeo said Iran had tested a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of a UN resolution, while Iran said its missile program was purely defensive in nature and solely for the defense of the country.

No direct threat

The launch itself did not appear to determine any capabilities that the US was not aware of and it did not pose a direct threat, according to a defense official directly familiar with the initial data from the launch.

And while Pompeo claimed the test violated UN resolution 2231, the launch does not constitute a violation of the UN measure, according to the language of the resolution.

The Security Council adopted the resolution, which endorsed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known, in 2015. It does not, in fact, ban Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles, a point of criticism for opponents of the deal.

Instead, it says “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles,” language that does not forbid Tehran from testing or make it a violation if it does so.

Iranian pushback

A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Bahram Qassemi, rejected Pompeo’s claim in a statement on the ministry’s website on Sunday. “No UN Security Council resolution has banned Iran’s missile program or missile tests,” Qassemi said.

The missile, according to the statement from Pompeo, had the capability of carrying multiple warheads and “has a range that allows it to strike parts of Europe and anywhere in the Middle East.”

US Strategic Command tracked the Iranian test using a satellite network that traces ballistic missile launches, a senior administration official told CNN.

Last week the Trump administration displayed what it said were Iranian manufactured weapons that Houthi rebels in Yemen recently fired into Saudi Arabia. The administration says the Houthis are supported by Tehran.