Senators pressed administration officials on Thursday over Iran's two confirmed missile tests, with one accusing officials of going easy on Tehran to "affect internal elections."
"I'm getting the strong sense that the reason we're doing nothing ... is because we're trying to affect the internal elections that will take place this spring," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "And that is just not in keeping with the intentions of this agreement. I get the sense that you and others are complicit."
The hearing was being held following the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to close the book on Iran's past nuclear activities this week, a key step in removing nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. But after opening testimony, discussion went to Iran's recent missile tests, and the question of how much the administration is willing to do when Iran violates U.N. rules on missiles.
"I have a very clear sense, and I hope I'm wrong, that what we have here is a permissive environment, we have a set of circumstances that regardless of what you saw of the [potential military dimension] issue, we for the longest period of time [have gotten] a real sense of the breadth and scope as to how far Iran got in developing its efforts for a nuclear weapon," said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. "Now the administration consistently came before this committee and said that if we move aside from the nuclear portfolio, then we would aggressively pursue Iran's violations of international order, missile technology, weapons trafficking, human rights and its hegemonic interest in the region. Since then we've seen not one but two missile tests. We have seen an interdiction of arms shipments off of Oman and I don't think we can expect the Security Council to do anything about it because of Russia and China.