WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, below is an article The Washington Examiner published today featuring U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) discussing his stance on Iran sanctions in the wake of Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests. Senator Coons returned this weekend from a trip to Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Vienna where he met with heads of state and senior government officials about enforcing the Iran deal and new developments in the Middle East. 

The Washington Examiner: Senate Dem pushes Obama on Iran sanctions

By Susan Crabtree

A prominent Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is urging the Obama administration to slap new sanctions on Iran over its recent ballistic missile tests.

After returning from a trip to the Middle East, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told reporters Monday that Iran's two most recent ballistic missile launches clearly violate United Nations security resolutions, and it's critical that the U.S. act. 

"When it comes to taking additional actions to [sanction Iran] in response to the ballistic missile launches — absolutely, I think we should do so," Coons said. "I don't know why the administration has hesitated, but I am urging them publicly and privately to move ahead with those designations."

Reacting to Tehran's ballistic missile tests, the Obama administration in December told key members of Congress it planned to level sanctions on Iran for violating United Nations resolutions, but then reversed itself without explanation. The State Department has said "technical" issues have prevented sanctions, but has said sanctions could be imminent.

The nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, will give Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief as long as Tehran continues to comply with its requirements. The sanctions will be lifted on Implementation Day, a date that could come as early as later this month, according to Iranian officials.

Iran has argued that imposing new sanctions on areas that fall outside of the nuclear agreement would amount to an abrogation on the part of the U.S. and other world partners involved in negotiating it. But Coons dismissed that argument Monday. 

"There is no question that the U.S. clearly and fully communicated to our [negotiating partners] and to Iran during the negotiating process that we retained the right to continue to enforce sanctions for Iran's bad behavior," Coons said.

"I think it was very clearly communicated, and it played a role in my decision to support the JCPOA that we retained the legal authority and the right to impose further sanctions if Iran's bad behavior ... continued," he said. "It has continued." 

"We should take action, and I think that it's critical to our demonstrating the determination to hold Iran accountable," he said.

Over the past weeks, Coons visited Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey where he met with heads of state and senior government officials.