Iran has unveiled a ballistic missile that reportedly can reach the United States. The headline of a report by Iran's state-controlled Afkar News read, "American Soil Is Now Within the Range of Iranian Bombs". Pictured: A ballistic missile on display during a military parade marking the annual National Army Day in Tehran, on April 18, 2019. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)
Those who advocate pursuing a policy of appeasement toward the ruling mullahs as a means of changing the Iranian regime's behavior fail to understand that the more the international community will give the mullahs, the more Tehran will become belligerent and emboldened. One day after the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of lifting the arms embargo on Iran, for instance, the ruling mullahs unveiled a ballistic missile that reportedly can reach the United States.
The headline of a report by Iran's state-controlled Afkar News read in Farsi, "American Soil Is Now Within the Range of Iranian Bombs". The report boasted about the damage that the Iranian regime could inflict on the US:
"By sending a military satellite into space, Iran now has shown that it can target all American territory; the Iranian parliament had previously warned [the US] that an electromagnetic nuclear attack on the United States would likely kill 90 percent of Americans."
The report also threatened the EU, which voted in favor of lifting the arms embargo against Iran:
"The same type of ballistic missile technology used to launch the satellite could carry nuclear, chemical or even biological weapons to wipe Israel off the map, hit US bases and allies in the region and US facilities, and target NATO even in the far west of Europe."
The Trump administration attempted to re-impose international sanctions on Iran after the UN rejected extending the arms embargo. Those are the four rounds of UN sanctions that were in place before the Obama administration and the Iranian regime supposedly reached the JCPOA nuclear deal, which Tehran never signed. When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempted to trigger the snapback, however, 13 of the 15 countries that are members of the Security Council wrote letters expressing their opposition to the US proposal and to the re-imposition of international sanctions against Iran. The opponents included longtime transatlantic allies and partners of the US, including France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium.
This is not the first time that the Iranian regime has become more aggressive after the international community pursued policies of appeasement with the mullahs. Recall when, upon the JCPOA's agreement, former President Barack Obama pointed out that he was "confident" that the lifting of sanctions and the nuclear deal would "meet the national security needs of the United States and our allies"? It was even outlined in the JCPOA preamble that all signatories -- which, again, Iran was not -- "anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security." What, though, was the outcome?
The international community witnessed a greater propensity for Yemeni Houthi rockets launched at civilian targets, the deployment of Hezbollah foot-soldiers in Syria, and increasing attacks by the Iranian-funded Hamas into southern Israel. With billions of dollars of revenue pouring into the pockets of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Tehran did not change its behavior for the better. Instead, it became more empowered and emboldened to pursue its revolutionary ideals of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. Iran became, according to the US Department of State, "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism."
At the peak of these appeasement policies towards the mullahs during the Obama Administration, Iran was emboldened to publicly harass the US Navy, detained US sailors and imprisoned American citizens. Khamenei also repeatedly threatened "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" and made incendiary remarks about wiping Israel from the face of earth "in less than 8 minutes."
As the international community gave the regime more, Iran intensified test-firing its ballistic missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, an act in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231:
"Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."
After each act of appeasement towards the ruling mullahs, the regime also ratcheted up its domestic repression and human rights violations as well. According to Human Rights Watch, after the JCPOA "nuclear deal" and after sanctions were lifted, Iran escalated the imprisonment and executions of human rights and political activists. The regime became "the top executioner of women and holds the record on per capita executions in the world" and, according to Amnesty International, the world's leading executioner of juveniles.
For Iran's ruling mullahs, compromises and appeasement means weakness. The more the international community gives the mullahs, the more the regime apparently feels empowered to pursue its malign behavior.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu