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Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to take action against Iran for recent ballistic missile tests, suggesting it could impact Iran's willingness to comply with a separate nuclear deal.
Twenty-one senators sent a letter to the president Thursday, telling him to be ready to act either unilaterally or with European allies if the United Nations Security Council fails to reach an agreement on responding to Iran's violations of U.N. resolutions.
"Such action is essential to make clear to Iran’s leaders that there will be consequences for future violations of UN Security Council Resolutions and that the United States reserves the right under the [nuclear agreement] to take unilateral action in response to this and other significant actions by Iran in the areas of ballistic missile development, terrorism and human rights," they wrote.
While the Democratic lawmakers said that they appreciate U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power's efforts to try to get the Security Council to take action, they also suggested the process is moving too slowly.
They added that if Iran doesn't face consequences for two missile tests it has launched since October, government leaders in Tehran would "certainly also question the willingness of the international community to respond to violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."
The letter is the latest sign of concern from senators over the ballistic missile tests, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle sending a flurry of letters to Obama and top administration officials since October pushing for a response.
Separately, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) slammed the U.N. Security Council on Thursday for not increasing sanctions against Iran in the wake of the missile tests, noting that further sanctions wouldn't violate the nuclear deal.
"New sanctions for this type of behavior are not only allowed under the terms of that agreement, in fact it is critical to the agreement's success that the U.S. be willing to respond to Iran's bad behavior," he said.
Thirty-five Republican senators sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday, saying that as a consequence of the tests, the administration should hold off on lifting sanctions against Iran under the nuclear deal.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial restrictions. The administration has argued for months that Iran's ballistic missile program is a separate issue from the nuclear deal.