The Corner

Iran’s Missile Test

Associated Press is reporting that Iran has now tested a new Sajjil-2 missile:

Iran on Wednesday test-fired an upgraded version of its most advanced missile, which is capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe, in a new show of strength aimed at preventing any military strike against it amid the nuclear standoff with the West.

A few thoughts:

1. While Western intelligence officials will analyze the success of the test and the capabilities of the missile, policy makers should take no solace should the test turn out, as before, to be less than meets the eye. The policy of procrastination — we needn’t take serious action; the Iranians aren’t there yet — is policy malpractice. We have the most freedom to coerce changes before the Iranians succeed with new technologies. And if we wait too long, we may find ourself in a situation where Iran gains capability or another power — Israel, for example — attempts to pre-empt.

2. We must recognize that both the long-range missile program and any future nuclear-weapons capability would be under the command-and-control of the most hardline elements of the Islamic Republic: the Office of the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That the Iranian people are far more moderate and cosmopolitan than their leadership is irrelevant under the current structure of power.

3. The overwhelming passage yesterday of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act is a step in the right direction. The most effective diplomacy occurs when it occurs simultaneously with more coercive strategies. Indeed, if we wanted maximal leverage in diplomacy, we should attempt to maximize sanctions and then negotiate to suspend them as Tehran complied with international norms. There are many sanctions that would be effective even without Beijing or Moscow’s buy-in and which could not be exploited by Chinese and Russian businessmen. Most of these involve designations of Iran’s Central Bank.

4. Discussion of whether any particular Iranian figure endorses any particular sanction are silly.  Designing any U.S. policy around the endorsement of any Iranian figure is silly. The Obama administration should instead base U.S. strategy on U.S. national interests and effectiveness. The Iranian people would certainly rally around the flag should there be any military action against Iran, but they have never rallied to the government’s side when faced with economic trouble. They consistently blame the government, as they did when during previous oil shortages.

5. The Obama administration should recognize that survival of the Islamic Republic as a regime is not a U.S. interest.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Get Your Facts Right

On the menu today: Another reminder that “People of Praise” and “People of Hope” are not the same group, and proof that “People of Hope” did not inspire Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; wondering what Joe Biden is doing with his time these days; and two Senate committees release their ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Get Your Facts Right

On the menu today: Another reminder that “People of Praise” and “People of Hope” are not the same group, and proof that “People of Hope” did not inspire Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; wondering what Joe Biden is doing with his time these days; and two Senate committees release their ... Read More