Between attacking NFL players, NBA teams and Senator John McCain this weekend, President Trump found time to share some thoughts about Iran and North Korea on Twitter.
We’ve come to expect the president to be light on substance and facts when it comes to matters of national security. Yet it was still shocking to see him tweet about an Iranian missile launch…THAT NEVER HAPPENED.
And remarkably, that wasn’t the only dangerous and foolish thing about this tweet. With every tweet and statement like this, President Trump is provoking conflict and undermining US diplomats. We can’t let these falsehoods stand – we need to challenge and correct them.
A few notes:
The missile test never happened. Iranian TV aired a video on Saturday claiming to show the successful launch of a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers. But it was fake. The video showed the beginning of a failed launch that occurred seven months ago. The full video shows the rocket exploding shortly after launch.
The president, rather than awaiting independent verification from his own officials and deliberating on a response, dashed off this ill-conceived tweet to buttress his case against Iran.
It should be noted that Iran’s ballistic missile program is a very serious concern for both the US and Israel. That’s why the United States has strong sanctions on Iran related to its ballistic missile testing program.None of these sanctions were lifted when we signed the Iran deal. In fact, the United States slapped more sanctions related to the program on Iran in July, after that failed January test depicted in the video. Our friends at The Iran Project have put together a useful factsheet on further measures that could be taken to confront Iran’s missile program without the US violating the Iran deal. Tweeting about fake launches is not one of the recommended tactics.
The Iran deal wasn’t designed to stop fake (or real) missile tests. The purpose of the Iran deal was to make sure Iran wouldn’t have a nuclear warhead to put on top of its missiles. In that pursuit, it has been successful. We diplomatically blocked a dangerous regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. Our allies, the International Atomic Energy Agency and others have all verified that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, and inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites have gone up over the past year.
President Trump can and should work to combat Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles. Ending the Iran deal would make that far harder.As many observers have pointed out, the United States, not Iran, would be blamed for the deal’s failure. And that would make it far harder for the US to build coalitions for other diplomatic pursuits — like confronting North Korea.