By Rebecca Kheel - 01/07/16 11:28 AM EST
Seven Democratic lawmakers are urging President Obama to impose sanctions on Iran after two ballistic missile tests.
“The United States and our allies must take immediate, punitive action and send a clear message to Iran that violating international laws, treaties and agreements will have serious consequences,” the lawmakers wrote to Obama in a letter this week. “We understand the administration is preparing sanctions against individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and we urge you to announce such sanctions without further delay.”
The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Eliot Engel (N.Y.), Albio Sires (N.J.), Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyDem protest ignites debate about control of House cameras 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2016 election IRS hearing: Five things to watch MORE (Va.), Susan Davis (Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.).
In October and November, Iran conducted ballistic missile tests in violation of United Nations resolutions. In December, Iran also conducted live-fire exercises within 1,500 yards of a U.S. aircraft carrier, which U.S. officials described as "unnecessarily provocative."
The administration was reportedly close to levying new sanctions on Iran in response to the missile tests, but delayed the announcement.
In their letter, the lawmakers argued that Iran’s recent behavior is especially troubling given the impending implementation of the nuclear deal.
“While not all of us share the same opinion on the JCPOA, we are united in our desire to ensure it is vigilantly enforced and to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” they wrote, using an abbreviation for the official name of the deal.
Failure to respond to the acts, the lawmakers said, would send a message that nuclear deal reached last year gives Iran free range on its other activities.
“Inaction from the United States would send the misguided message that, in the wake of the JCPOA, the international community has lost the willingness to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its support for terrorism and other offensive actions throughout the region — including in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip,” they wrote. “This behavior — including these ballistic missile tests — poses a direct threat to American national security interests and those of our allies.”