Iran’s test firing of a ballistic missile in violation of a UN resolution last weekend was a calculated shot by Tehran across the bow of the Trump administration. Iran’s leaders have been eager to see how far the new US administration can be pushed. Tehran has also been anxious to determine whether or not President Trump’s tough campaign rhetoric regarding Iran would carry over after his inauguration. The US answer came today with new sanctions being imposed on 25 companies and individuals mainly associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program as a result of Iran’s latest missile test. While this volley of sanction is primarily concentrated on suppliers of the missile program, it also targets some groups involved with the arming of terrorist groups.
These sanctions are not overly aggressive to the point where they will invite an Iranian escalation. Quite truthfully, the sanctions are a proportional response to a provocative action. Since the missile test did not violate the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran, the US measures cannot be classified as a response to the 2015 agreement. Iran called the sanctions to be ‘illegal’ and a Foreign Ministry statement declared plainly that Iran is now considering similar economic restrictions aimed at the United States.
For now, the back and forth between Tehran and Washington appears as if it will be mild and controlled. If this remains true for a longer period of time is dependent upon Iran, and not the US. The Obama administration handled Iran with kids gloves, adopting a posture that was never firm or decisive, and left a wide amount of maneuvering room for Iran to use for its advantage. Those days are over now and Iran needs to come to terms with it. For lack of a better term, Tehran’s gravy train is over. The new US administration will deal with Iran with clear resolve and viable diplomatic, economic, and military strategies to support it.