Sunday, October 18, isn't just a day of baseball playoffs and pro football games. It's "Adoption Day," when all parties to the Iran nuclear deal must begin preparing to implement its terms. And while the Obama administration takes another opportunity to pat itself on the back for its achievement, Iran has offered the international community a clear signal of what it thinks about its obligations under the deal, as well as its strategic intentions. Just a week before Adoption Day, Iran test-fired a new precision-guided ballistic missile capable of delivering a 1,600-pound warhead to Israel or even southeastern Europe and designed to evade missile defense systems.
"Senate concern about Iran's recent ballistic missile test is welcome but unfortunately this letter reflects a lack of full appreciation of its import," Michael Makovsky, chief executive of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), tells me. "The test is a result of the Iran deal, which 9 of the 11 letter signators signed, in two ways." He explains that not only did the deal, at Iran's insistence, leave out any discussion of intercontinental ballistic missiles, but more broadly "the deal marked the final collapse of American credibility, encouraging Iran to accelerate its ballistic missile program and other provocative acts (such as in Syria)."
It's been two weeks since a majority of Congress sought to register its disapproval of the Iran deal but fell short of the votes necessary to break a filibuster or override a presidential veto, and most politicians and commentators have moved on. It's understandable to want a mental break after a long and hard-fought struggle. But the world hasn't taken a break. The consequences of the deal are already reverberating.
As the parties now begin implementing the JCPA, and Congress decides whether to disapprove the agreement, it is both useful and necessary to highlight critical deficiencies that remain unaddressed. This short briefing paper, based on the Task Force's body of work, focuses on the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.