Back in October, Iran put the Obama administration in a tough spot. Tehran test-fired a next generation, surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The new weapon – dubbed “Emad” – is capable of hitting arch nemesis Israel and although the launch didn’t violate the letter of the nuclear accord, it did apparently violate a UN resolution and that, in turn, prompted a number of US lawmakers to call for a fresh set of sanctions on Tehran.
Of course this isn’t the best time to be slapping the Iranians with more sanctions, which is presumably why The White House delayed a decision on the matter last week.
First, the implementation of the nuclear deal is supposed to bring sanctions relief for Tehran. Any new punitive measures will jeopardize the agreement. If the deal falls apart, it would be a severe blow to Obama’s presidential legacy.
Furthermore, heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia in connection with the latter’s decision to execute a prominent Shiite cleric, have plunged the Muslim world into chaos. Were the US to hit Iran with sanctions now, it might very well come across as a kind of backdoor way of supporting the Saudi position in the middle of a worsening diplomatic crisis.
Knowing that Washington is in a bind, the Iranians have pushed ahead with their vaunted ballistic missile program. As we’ve noted on a number of occasions, Iran has one of the largest ballistic missile arsenals in the Middle East. Here’s the breakdown courtesy of the US…