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Biden Admin, U.N. Inaction Poised to End Sanctions Against Iran Missile Program

If these sanctions expire, Iran will be able to start selling missiles and drones to its allies again, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
(ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation

The Biden administration and U.N. members will potentially let sanctions against Iran’s missile program expire on Wednesday, freeing Tehran to potentially send weaponry to terrorist proxies like Hamas, according to foreign policy experts.

When the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – informally known as the Iran Nuclear Deal – was signed in 2015 by the U.S. and the permanent 5 (P5) member nations of the U.N. Security Council, it included a provision that sanctioned Iran from selling ballistic missiles and drone technology to its allies. The sanctions expire on Wednesday, and if the U.S. and member nations do not “snapback” sanctions before then, Iran will be allowed to start selling missiles and drones to its allies again, according to experts from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“Lapsing UN penalties on Iran’s ballistic missile tests, transfers, and other activities will be yet another sign of the international community’s irresolution to say and do the right thing on Iran,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior researcher on Iranian security and political issues at FDD, wrote in an FDD analysis. “It will, therefore, embolden Iran to double down on its terror proxies and arms proliferation.”

“Allowing these sanctions to expire would essentially put the Iranian [arms] proliferation problem on steroids,” Taleblu told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The allies that Iran could send missiles to are positioned against Western nations and include terror organizations like Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas, the latter of which launched an attack against Israel on Oct. 7, resulting in the deaths of over 1,400 Israelis and the kidnapping of 120 people, including Americans. Iran has backed and funded Hamas for decades and views it as a proxy to carry out terrorism on its behalf.

In order to impose a full snapback of sanctions, a letter would have to be sent to the U.N. Security Council outlining Iran’s violations of its missile program. The E3 – United Kingdom, France, and Germany – have acknowledged that Iran continues to violate their own sanctions but have not acted to initiate a full snapback, according to FDD.

When asked on Oct. 4 whether the Biden administration will take charge to reimpose missile and drone sanctions on Iran, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said there was not “anything to preview on that right now.” No plans to reimpose sanctions have been announced by the administration since that date.

A group of over 100 Democratic and Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Biden on Monday demanding that his administration reimpose missile sanctions against Iran. They also called on the Biden administration to more strongly enforce existing sanctions against Iran to hold it “fully accountable for its continued role in funding Hamas.”

“Now is the time to be building bridges with Europe and developing a new nonproliferation sanctions architecture, as well as enforcing existing U.S. penalties on Iranian oil and petrochemical exports, which funds Tehran’s missile and military programs,” Taleblu told the DCNF.

The Biden administration has made a number of concessions to Iran since 2021, including easing up on sanctions that allowed Iran to export a higher volume of oil to its allies and rake in billions. Iranian oil exports have reached nearly 2 million barrels a day, a stark contrast to the 400,000 barrels exported a day in 2020 under the Trump administration.

The Biden administration cut a deal with Iran in September to transfer $6 billion in previously frozen assets in exchange for five American prisoners. The $6 billion was reportedly refrozen after the Hamas attacks against Israel, though the Biden administration has not publicly confirmed that.

The State Department and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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