The Hill, By Armstrong Williams
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Enough is enough. For decades the world has been dealing with a hostile Iranian regime committed to radical Islam, waging war against the West and sowing the seeds of destruction through sponsorship of terrorism. It is long overdue for that behavior to stop. The unelected mullahs in Tehran need to understand that Iran cannot continue to do as it pleases without any consequences. That important message was sent in recent weeks by the U.S. military, Congress and President Trump.
Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf came close to sparking military confrontation that would have pitted the U.S. Navy against the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. An Iranian ship steered menacingly close to a U.S. vessel, ignoring radio warnings to change course. In the end, the American ship was forced to fire warning shots, ultimately defusing the situation.
This was actually the latest in a series of escalations at sea by Iran. In a stunning display of arrogance and antipathy toward the United States, Iran violated international law in 2016 by taking American soldiers captive and then airing video of the detained soldiers as propaganda.
In the latest sign that the United States is taking steps to enforce more accountability on Iran for its nefarious actions, Congress passed an important piece of legislation that Trump promptly signed into law. The bill strengthens sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses, and illicit conventional weapons trade. It also aims to pressure Iran to restrain its nuclear development and to deliver penalties for disruption.
These were positive steps that demonstrate President Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill understand the threat Iran poses to the United States and the rest of the world. Sanctioning Iran and putting Tehran on notice helps avoid an open confrontation. America does presently not seek or need a military clash with Iran.
In the meantime, Iran has found itself on the front pages of newspapers across the world for the wrong reasons and we should not let down our guard. The American public needs to be aware of what has been happening in the Middle East because of Iran and its bankrolling of terrorism and fomenting of hostilities. Keeping Iran in the spotlight is ultimately likely to prove essential for creating and maintaining stability in the Middle East and around the world.
A lot has happened worldwide since the United States agreed to the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the disastrous nuclear deal that has allowed Iran to keep its illicit atomic infrastructure and continue developing its nuclear program without adequate supervision by inspectors.
Iran has also continued apace with threatening missile tests, which are particularly alarming. The development of Iran’s missile program has produced an arsenal with ever-expanding abilities to strike far beyond the Middle East alone. Iran already possesses the ability to launch missiles that can hit anywhere inside Israel. In 2015, Iran unveiled a new long-range missile that has the capability to detonate across large swaths of Europe.
Given Iran’s history of deception, there is a very real fear that Iran could violate the JCPOA or ultimately decide to abandon it altogether, moving full throttle to make the final last leap to nuclear capability. The bellicose rhetoric that is continuously broadcast by Iran demonstrates clearly its desire for confrontation with the United States and its allies.
America in recent days has sent a clear and united message to Iran, reasserting that its destructive actions will not be tolerated. The new law targets those people working to advance Iran’s missiles and weapons program, and it makes it more difficult for the regime to destabilize the region.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has correctly and sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council for the disproportionate amount of negative focus on Israel while ignoring the threat of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. Haley recently reminded the U.N. Security Council that Hezbollah is the real threat to peace and security in the Middle East, not Israel, which seeks peace with its neighbors.
When it comes to Iran, America must continue to distrust and verify. The world needs to keep a close eye on Iran’s nuclear plants and also its hostile actions in the military arena. Congress and President Trump have shown they understand the very real threat Iran poses and must continue to be vigilant to protect the American people from enemies in Tehran who wish us harm.