By Majid Rafizadeh
[ Originally published in The Gatestone Institute]
Among the many concessions that the Obama-Biden administration gave to the ruling mullahs of Iran, was one setting a date when Iran’s arms embargo would be lifted. The Obama administration agreed to add a provision in the nuclear deal — which, by the way, Iran never got around to signing — allowing the lifting of an arms embargo.
Now, again thanks to the Obama-Biden administration, the arms embargo is set to expire in October 2020.
It is important to point out that the Obama administration erased years of efforts and significant political capital that the international community had invested to impose the arms embargo in the first place.
“From December 2006 to 2010, the five members of the United Nations Security Council finally agreed to pass series of resolutions (Resolution 1737, Resolution 1747, and Resolution 1929) imposing significant restrictions on Iran’s arms activities”.
The UN Security Council resolution 1929 stated:
“Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities”.
The ban encompassed a wide range of weapons, including large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, attack helicopters, some missiles and missile launchers, and warships.
The mullahs, in addition, scored a major political victory when the US administration in 2015 added a section to the nuclear deal permitting the lifting of the arms embargo through two sunset clauses.
It was mind-boggling that the Obama-Biden administration decided to include such an appeasing and dangerous provision in the nuclear deal. Both Democrats and Republicans were, in fact, stunned by the move. At the time, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the leading Republican in Congress, John Boehner, pointed out : “It blows my mind that the administration would agree to lift the arms and missile bans.”
Senator Ben Cardin, the former leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed. “It’s hard for us to accept it, so we just want to take a look at it,” he said.
If the arms embargo on the theocratic establishment of Iran were lifted, the Iranian regime would be allowed legally to export and import advanced weapons, which would subsequently strengthen the military apparatuses of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite branch, the Quds Force.
Who will benefit from lifting the arms embargo? Russia and China. They would most likely be the preferred arms exporters to Iran. With prospects for multi-billion dollar deals, Moscow and Beijing would doubtless be delighted to sell weapons to Iran.
That is probably why the Russian Foreign Ministry last month pointed out:
“It has been said in Congress that the United States would try to convince Russia and China not to veto the draft UN Security Council resolution on extending the arms embargo on Iran. But it is no use raising this matter in the Security Council. There are no grounds for this. The timeframe and conditions coordinated in 2015 are not subject to revision.”
Tehran will likely utilize the sophisticated weaponry to advance its hegemonic ambitions in the region, increase its military adventurism in the Middle East, and ship arms to its proxies and militia groups to destabilize the region and trigger an arms race across the Middle East.
Notably, the arms embargo is to be lifted against a regime that is the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has already been caught several times smuggling weapons to its militia and terror groups in violation of the UN Resolution 2231, which ostensibly prevents Iran from transferring arms directly or indirectly out of its territories without the approval of the UN Security Council. For example, it was revealed that Iran has been shipping weapons and military advisers to the Houthis either directly to Yemen or via Somalia.
If the arms embargo on the Iranian regime is removed, imagine how much more the “top state sponsor of terrorism” will ratchet up its delivery of weapons and ammunition to militia and terror groups.
In short, thanks to the Obama-Biden administration, Iran’s arms embargo, set to expire in few months, would further assist the mullahs’ predatory regime even more powerfully to pursue its destabilizing, militaristic and aggressive policies across the world.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
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