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Republicans Clamor for More Pressure on Iran

Lawmakers took aim at the Obama administration Wednesday for failing to respond more aggressively to reports that Iran launched a second medium-range ballistic missile last month — a potential violation of United Nations resolutions.

United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power Holds Press Conference At United Nations
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power holds a press conference on September 3, 2014 in New York City. Power answered questions on foreign extremist Islamist fighters joining ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the most recent Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, amongst other topics. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Lawmakers took aim at the Obama administration Wednesday for failing to respond more aggressively to reports that Iran launched a second medium-range ballistic missile last month — a potential violation of United Nations resolutions.

The charge was mostly led by Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but it also included a few Democrats.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the United States was reviewing the reports but had not yet confirmed their accuracy. If the reports are accurate, Power said the United States would bring evidence against Iran at a meeting next week of the U.N. Security Council, which could result in punitive action.

If confirmed, the November launch would violate Security Council Resolution 1929, which prohibits Iran from ballistic missile tests. It would challenge the Obama administration to decide how vocally it wants to criticize Iran’s ballistic missile activities while Tehran continues to dismantle its nuclear program under the deal struck last summer with world powers.

Power’s pledge to potentially take the issue to the Security Council did not satisfy Republicans.

“There’s been a concern on both sides of the aisle that there’s an air of permissiveness that’s being developed,” said committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

“By not imposing sanctions … aren’t we allowing the exploitation of a vacuum of authority?” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bob Menendez of New Jersey also voiced concerns. “Part of the way in which you keep the peace is to make sure that the will of the international community is observed,” said Menendez, referring to the enforcement of U.N. resolutions.

Power said the administration is currently “looking at bilateral sanctions tools we have at our disposal.” But, she said, many of the individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program are already sanctioned under U.S. law.

Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images