The United States is calling out Iran again. And they are correct to do so.
This tongue lashing was stimulated by Iran's space program. The United States administration correctly asserts that the same rockets that Iran is using for space launches can, and will, be used by Iran to launch non-conventional warheads. That means not only nuclear weapons, but also biological and/or chemical weapons.
The technology is the same. The materials are the same. The only difference is semantic — the difference is in what you call the launch. Space launch versus ballistic launch. It's that simple.
Iran is taking umbrage with this latest round of critique from the United States. And they, too, are correct.
There are several conflicting issues at stake. The most compelling argument the Iranians have is that they have done no wrong. UNSC Resolution 2231 set into international law the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as JCPOA, or simply as we in the West have taken to calling it, the "Iranian Deal." And that deal, from what we have been allowed to read in the incomplete copy that was distributed to all of us without top notch security clearance, makes no mention of space launches. Not one word.
The deal as it was written was very narrowly focused. And not to think about uses for rockets other than for nuclear purposes was a major mistake on the part of the Obama administration. Diplomatically speaking, it was a major sin of omission.
On the other hand, U.S. President Donald J. Trump has rejected JCPOA. He has overturned the agreement. So, one has to ask, on what grounds is the United States objecting to Iran's space program?
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a very clear warning to Iran. On behalf of the administration, Pompeo told the Iranians not to advance on their three planned space rocket launches. He told them that this venture into space would be in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution because these space launches use the same technology as ballistic missile technology.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was saying "stop" — stop all ballistic missile activity.
Pompeo's statement reads: "The United States will not stand by and watch the Iranian regimes destructive policies place international stability and security at risk." Then he took it further: "We advise the regime to reconsider these provocative launches and cease all activities related to ballistic missiles in order to avoid deeper economic and diplomatic isolation."
Of course Iran is not going to heed the U.S. call to stop. On his Twitter account — in English, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explained very clearly where his country stands on this issue.
He tweeted: "Iran's launch of space vehicles - & missile tests - are NOT in violation of (Resolution) 2231. The US is in material breach of same, & as such it is in no position to lecture anyone on it."
And now there is an international backlash on social media because the United States is lecturing Iran.
President Trump started calling JCPOA the "worst deal" during his run for office. He couldn't have known it at the time, but Iran's space launches prove his point.
Western world leaders, for the most part, agree with the United States. And in the past the United Nations Security Council has come out in condemnation of Iran's space launches. But that was then and this is now.
Iran thrills at the prospect of dividing the world into us and them. Us is anti-United States. Them are pro-United States. Iran wants to lead the anti-U.S. movement. With their space launches, they are catapulting that campaign to new heights.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.