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On 7 March 2019, Acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen, in a letter to Secretary-General António Guterres urged the United Nations to put new sanctions on Iran for its new missile activities.

What exactly is the problem America has with Iran and what gives them the right to do anything about it.

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    The US has been after Iran since shortly after WW2 because it refuses to bend over as it wishes. – Denis de Bernardy Aug 26 '19 at 17:55
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    Nations clearly have a right to conduct diplomacy and trade as they see fit... reasoning aside, why would the US not have the right to support (not even impose) sanctions? – Nuclear Wang Aug 26 '19 at 18:00
  • Welcome to the site! And thanks for asking a great question. I've upvoted it (+1), but it could be improved by specifying whose perspective you are asking for. Unfortunately, we can't read the mind of a specific official - but if someone has published their reasoning we can research that. – indigochild Aug 26 '19 at 18:50
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    On what basis can the US push for sanctions of Iran's missile activities at the UN? is a different question to What exactly is the problem America has with Iran... Might be better to ask the second one separately? – Dave Gremlin Aug 27 '19 at 9:43
  • Given that the US broke their end of the deal first, I'd expect them to get laughed out of the room. – Shadur Aug 27 '19 at 10:23
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On what basis can the US push for sanctions of Iran's missile activities at the UN?

On the basis that there is a 2015 UN security council resolution that bans Iran from certain types of missile testing and that Iran's recent 2019 actions contravene this resolution.

See Appendix 1 for details and supporting references.


Bonus Question:

Why does Iran get a ban on weapons testing but the USA and Russia gets to withdraw from the INF and immediately test weapons, and no UNSC resolution is forthcoming?

The cynical would say because Iran is not currently a member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) but USA and Russia are. In fact the USA and Russia are permanent members of the UNSC. Iran is one of many UN General Assemby (UNGA) member countries that only get to be on the UNSC occasionally. There are very limited UNSC seats available and very many UNGA members. This means Iran has to rely on the sympathetic veto of one of a rotating handful of other UNSC members but the USA and Russia are always able to veto any proposed UNSC resolution aimed at them. This in turn means other UNSC members see little point in proposing resolutions aimed at banning USA or Russian nuclear-capable missiles or nuclear-capable missile tests etc.

The less cynical might argue that this situation arises because there is a general desire to prevent nuclear proliferation. This general desire is accompanied by a pragmatic recognition that preventing proliferation is both desirable and more achievable than persuading existing nuclear states to give up existing capabilities. In fact the former aim (prevent proliferation) is very plausibly a necessary prior step for the latter aim (general denuclearisation).


Appendix 1

UN Charter

According to the UN

To become a member of the UN, a state must follow a certain procedure. First, the state that wants to become a member of the United Nations must declare that it will adhere to the UN Charter.

The Charter has a several requirements of member states. For example, Article 2 includes

  1. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

  2. All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.

Chapter 7 outlines actions that can be authorised through the UN including

Article 41

The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42

Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Iranian actions

There are media reports that

Iran has test-fired a new missile, Revolutionary Guard commander Major General Hossein Salami said Saturday, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

"Our country is always the arena for testing a variety of defense and strategic systems and these are non-stop movements towards the growth of our deterrent power," Salami said. "And yesterday was one of the successful days for this nation."

and

a U.S. official told The New York Times on Thursday that Iran had test-fired a medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile on Wednesday, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

and

UN security council resolution 2231 [...] bans Iran from undertaking ‘any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology’.”

UNSC Resolution 2231

UN Security Council Resolution 2231 states

  1. Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.

It also lists sanctions.

Note that the resolution was passed unanimously. That means it is insufficient for the USA to want something. Russia, China etc also have to have wanted the same thing.

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    This isn't really a good answer, because it simply points to a UN charter requirement which many many countries, including the UK and US, violate with no repercussions... There's a lot of history between Iran and the US, and that is primarily the basis of why Iran gets treated differently by the UNSC. Why does Iran get a ban on weapons testing but the US and Russia gets to withdraw from the INF and immediately test weapons, and no UNSC resolution is forthcoming? – Moo Aug 27 '19 at 6:19
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    @Moo The answer is correct, if a little bit dry. The USA can bring Iran's missile testing to the UN because there's a UN resolution banning Iran's missile testings. The irony of this ban on Iran (or North Korea) while there isn't equivalent bans on other countries only states that in the UN, like in Orwell's Animal Farm, all countries are equal, but some are more equal than others. – Rekesoft Aug 27 '19 at 9:00
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    And there's a UN resolution banning Iranian missile testing because the US wanted one - it's a circular argument. – Moo Aug 27 '19 at 9:56
  • @Moo: I appreciate your comments and have changed the answer to try to address the points raised. I don't see the "circular argument" part because the OP asked "on what basis" and my answer details the basis. Note that the resolution pre-dates the specific event the OP asks about. You could help me more by suggesting specific changes to the answer that would remove the circularity of reasoning you object to. – RedGrittyBrick Aug 27 '19 at 10:02

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