Iran’s violation of UN policy with its recent ballistic missile test is only the latest in a string of provocative bad acts by the Islamic Republic since reaching a landmark nuclear deal this summer with the West.
Even as state TV announced a senior council of clerics and officials in Iran approved implementing the nuke agreement on Wednesday, and even as the deal appears a fait accompli to be recognized by the U.S., Iran has resisted yielding further to the international community. Its leaders continue full-throated and violent denouncements of Israel and the U.S.; its judicial system continues to hold at least three Americans captive for ambiguously defined crimes; its military expands into Syria and Iraq; and it continues to aid terror organizations.
President Obama’s Aug. 5 caution that the nuclear pact “does not ensure a warming between our two countries” may prove to be one of his most prescient presidential remarks.
"Iran is entirely confident that Obama will not do anything that might jeopardize the Vienna agreement, which explains their open boasting about the recent missile test," former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and Fox News contributor John Bolton told FoxNews.com. "It will get even worse once the Security Council sanctions are formally lifted."
Earlier Wednesday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard opened the doors of a secret underground missile base to state TV, showing off medium- and long-range missiles.
The station aired footage of long tunnels with ready-to-fire missiles on the back of trucks. The broadcast said the facility is one of hundreds of underground missile bases around the country. It didn't disclose the location but said it was 1,600 feet underground.
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Guard's aerospace branch, boasted that the facility is the "tip of the iceberg" of the Guard's military might. Days earlier, Iran said it successfully test-fired a new long-range surface-to-surface missile.
“Rather than helping the Syrian people unite against extremism and ISIL, Iran continues to prop up a regime that brutalizes the Syrian people, which only nurtures the growth of extremism”
- State Dept. official
The U.S. Mission to the UN on Wednesday acknowledged efforts to get the Security Council to focus on the issue, though the format and the ideal outcome of such a discussion had yet to be announced. State Department spokesman Mark Toner and White House spokesman Josh Earnest each noted Tuesday that Iran’s ballistic missile test appeared to violate UN Security Resolution 1929, which bans Iran from conducting such tests. That resolution is in place until the nuke deal officially goes into effect, after which Tehran will merely be “called upon” not to conduct the tests.
A senior UN Security Council diplomat told Fox News on Wednesday that the Europeans want to see the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on Iran get an explanation from Tehran about the matter before taking any council action.
The military buildup comes amid unconfirmed reports that General Qassem Soleimani has joined thousands of Iranian troops in Syria to take part in ground offensives against groups opposed to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
“If true, this reaffirms that the support the Assad regime has received and continues to receive from Iran has enabled it to avoid seeking a constructive, negotiated end to the conflict,” a State Dept. official told Fox News on Tuesday. “Rather than helping the Syrian people unite against extremism and ISIL, Iran continues to prop up a regime that brutalizes the Syrian people, which only nurtures the growth of extremism.”
Within the country, the Iranian regime appears to be taking delight in poking American interests. State TV reported late Sunday that jailed Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian had been convicted following a trial for multiple charges, including espionage. Exactly what he was convicted of is still unknown.
“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement on Monday.
Rezaian is at least the third U.S. citizen in Iranian limbo, joining ex-Marine Amir Hekmati , who has been imprisoned on espionage charges since Aug. 2011, and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, sentenced to eight years in prison in 2013 for attempting to undermine the government. A fourth American, former CIA contractor Robert Levinson, is believed missing in the country. He hasn’t been heard from in several years. Iran denies knowing his whereabouts.
And while soldiers march into Syria, missiles pierce the sky and a journalist languishes in jail, a soundtrack of “Death to America” plays in the streets and in the parliament. Members of parliament chanted the phrase at Foreign Minister Javad Zarif last month in protest over a brief handshake with President Obama.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called such cheers innocuous during a September interview on “60 Minutes.”
“Our people respect the American people,” he said. “The Iranian people are not looking for war with any country, but at the same time the policies of the United States have been against the national interests of Iranian people.”
Fox News’ Jonathan Wachtel and Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.