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Lawmakers Raise Possibility Of Sanctions Against Iran

House Speaker Paul Ryan meets with reporters on Thursday. He said he would support additional sanctions on Iran following a ballistic missile test over the weekend.
J. Scott Applewhite
House Speaker Paul Ryan meets with reporters on Thursday. He said he would support additional sanctions on Iran following a ballistic missile test over the weekend.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran, one day after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn admonished Iran for a ballistic missile test it conducted on Sunday.

"I'd like to put as much toothpaste back in the tube as possible. I think the last administration appeased Iran far too much," Ryan said at a news conference.

On Wednesday, Flynn said "we are officially putting Iran on notice," but declined to elaborate.

President Trump said Thursday that "We have to be tough. It's time we're gonna be a little tough, folks," adding, "We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It's not gonna happen anymore."

Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said his country would not yield to "useless" U.S. threats from "an inexperienced person" over its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. Velayati did not specify which so-called inexperienced person he was referring to.

Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday on MSNBC that "the Iran sanctions that have gone in place ... have always been through U.S. leadership."

"I think it's appropriate for us to lead on pushing back," he continued, adding that he believes "it's too early to talk about military options" and "at a minimum we're looking at tougher sanctions on the nuclear issue."

Corker also echoed Flynn's remarks, expressing uneasiness with the enforcement of the 2015 international deal to curb Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities and accusing Iran of violating a weapons-related U.N. Security Council Resolution, also passed in 2015.

That side agreement replaced an outright prohibition on missile tests, with language calling upon Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology," as we reported.

The nuclear deal between Iran and six countries, including the U.S., was reached in July 2015 and required Iran to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, as we reported.

NPR's Philip Ewing reported that, "Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab allies in the Mideast were nervous about the effect of relieving Western sanctions on Iran in exchange for its agreement not to build a nuclear weapon. Obama tried to ease their worries by offering more American-built military hardware, including fighter aircraft and missile defense systems."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.