Obama's UN envoy grilled on Iranian missile tests

Obama's UN envoy grilled on Iranian missile tests
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Lawmakers from both parties grilled U.N. Ambassador Samantha PowerSamantha Jane Power#FreeAustinTice trending on anniversary of kidnapping in Syria 'Unmasker in Chief' Samantha Power spewed anti-Trump bias in government emails 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE on Wednesday, demanding the United Nations act quickly over claims Iran has tested ballistic missiles.

Power told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the Obama administration and U.N. Security Council are still investigating the two alleged tests in October and November.

“We are still looking to confirm those recent reports,” Power said of the November launch.

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“We confirmed the [October] violation, we brought it to the U.N. Security Council, the panel of experts is investigating the matter, and will report that to the Council when it’s ready. The U.N. machinery, as you know, works slowly.”

But lawmakers rebuked Power and said more decisive action was needed soon, alleging that the tests violate U.N. resolutions.

“Non-action here is just going to empower them [Iran] to continue to violate and what I think the Ambassador just said is that the U.N. is going to do nothing,” said Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.).

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPoll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (R-Colo.) also blasted the administration.

“So what other actions has the administration taken in response to the missile test, other than taking it to a panel, talking about it, and having a meeting?” he asked.

According to reports,  Iran test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead on Nov. 21. The missile is reportedly similar to one they previously tested on Oct. 10.

Lawmakers are concerned the tests are a sign the nuclear deal is encouraging Iran to break international rules without consequences.

“We understand that it [the Iran nuclear deal] is what’s governing our actions right now and on both sides of the aisle, regardless of how people voted, we want to make sure the agreement is implemented in the way that it was laid out,” Corker said.

Corker, along with Gardner and Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (D-N.J.), pressed Power to elaborate on possible consequences Iran could face if the U.N. decides Tehran broke international rules.

Power said the “snap back” provision of the nuclear deal allows the U.N. to reinforce sanctions on the country, if Iran does not dismantle its nuclear weapon facilities.

Menendez said the U.N. has to “send a real, clear, unequivocal, unambiguous message to the Iranians that we can be robustly active and take actions. Conversations are not action.”

The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss the Iranian missile tests.

The senators also questioned Power about the administration's response to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the U.N.'s role.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE (D-Va.) asked if countries would be more united against ISIS if Congress passed a new authorization for the use of military force. Kaine has long pushed for an ISIS war measure in Congress to authorize action.

“I think people are puzzled given the priority that the American people [have on it] and that there’s a bipartisan basis in both houses of Congress attached to the anti-ISIS struggle,” Power said of efforts to pass an ISIS war bill.

“The question is as a political symbol and as reinforcement of the effort that we are making that there should be an ability to get consensus here.”

Corker pushed back, saying “there is consensus in Congress.”

“They [the Obama administration] have every authority that they need to defeat and destroy ISIS and I believe that everyone in the world understands that Congress wants to see that happen,” he said.

“Has the president declared war on ISIS?,” he asked.

“I believe he has said that he will defeat and destroy ISIS,” Power responded.