In another blow to the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear deal and agreed upon sanctions, the head of Iran’s Qods Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, boarded a flight to Russia. United Nations Security Council sanctions had declared that all such travel was prohibited.
In response to this U.N. violation, the House Foreign Affairs Committee penned an urgent letter to the president, calling for immediate action:
“I appreciate that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has said that the U.S. is investigating whether this was a violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions. But this should not be a difficult matter to determine. Indeed, initial press reports included flight numbers and dates of Soleimani’s reported travel. If he did travel to Moscow, there must be strong and immediate action.”
The committee is demanding the following information:
· A determination of whether the travel of Soleimani took place, its purpose, and whether it was in violation of United Nations sanctions; and
· A list of all referrals of violations of United Nations Security Council sanctions to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006) since September 2013.
In addition to Soleimani’s restricted flight, reports revealed that Iranian weapons have been shipped to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, reaching the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas.
The Obama administration’s nuclear deal has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for giving Iran the upper hand. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), for instance, detailed how the agreement fails to hold Iran accountable or prevent them from pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.
In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) — the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.
Soleimani’s flight to Russia is just the latest in a string of violations against the Iranian nuclear deal. Guy has reported on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile and intent to ignore the arms embargo and missile sanctions.
Instead of reacting to these violations from a position of strength, we get these capitulatory responses from Secretary of State John Kerry.