The goals of the Iran nuclear deal passed and signed in 2015 -- a nuclear-weapons-free Iran that is able to engage freely in international markets -- were laudable ones, and they remain so.
Unfortunately, the agreement did not go anywhere near far enough in preventing the country from building nuclear weapons in the future.
The Iranian government tested the international community’s patience before the ink on the agreement was even dry. In October 2015, Iran violated a U.N. Security Council resolution by testing a ballistic missile capable of carrying warheads, CNN reported that December.
The U.S. and France issued harsh verbal condemnations, but did not follow up with any new sanctions. Two experts interviewed by CNN said it was unlikely the U.S. would do more than take symbolic action, given the high stakes of the deal.
To make matters worse, Iran is reportedly planning to test a Simorgh space launch vehicle in late February, according to The Washington Free Beacon. U.S. officials say the vehicle is a part of Tehran’s covert operation to develop long-range nuclear missiles.
The large rocket was assembled using technology from North Korea, where a "satellite" was launched on Feb. 7 -- which the U.S. Department of Defense said was actually a test of a long-range missile.
“To believe that Iran’s space program is about space is akin to believing its enrichment program was about medical isotopes,” Iran specialist Michael Rubin told The Washington Free Beacon.
"The only consistent factor across Iran’s various programs is that you can piece them together to create a nuclear weapons program," he added.
Additionally, the Government Accountability Office said on Feb. 23 that the International Atomic Energy Agency faces many potential challenges in monitoring and verifying the commitments made in the 2015 agreement, The Washington Post reports.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey pointed out that under the terms of the agreement, the IAEA has to do a larger job with fewer resources than it had during the era of sanctions.
“It is an agency that is understaffed for its purposes, losing technical assistance, people are leaving, has now a singular focus,” Menendez said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
With the Obama administration giving up so much leverage by signing the deal, it becomes increasingly easy to see that the various violations and semi-violations of U.N. security protocols make up a pattern, rather than being aberrations.
While it should be the goal to allow Iran back into international markets, which the country has been shut out of for so long, the Obama administration needs to begin working on measures that substantively punish activities that violate the nuclear deal. Only then will Americans begin to see the deal as a substantial, enforceable treaty rather than a vainglorious attempt to cement the current president’s legacy.