In what could be one of the most serious violations of the Iran Nuclear Deal so far, Russia may be involved in secret weapons deals with Tehran. The allegations were made by the German newspaper Die Welt, citing Western intelligence agencies — often a shorthand for Germany’s foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

Die Welt, Germany’s most-read newspaper, published a satellite image showing Iranian military aircraft on the Russian airbase located inside the Syrian territories currently under the control of the Assad Regime. According to the newspaper, intelligence sources have confirmed the existence of a “new smuggling route between Russia and Iran” that runs through Assad-held Syria. On two occasions, Iranian planes delivered military equipment to the Russian airbase that was reportedly shipped to Russia for maintenance purposes.

Under the terms of the Obama-backed Iran Nuclear Deal Framework announced in April 2015, to which Russia is also a signee, all UN member states are forbidden from supplying duel-use, and offensive military hardware or technology to Tehran. Military deals with the Islamic Republic must first be examined by the United Nations Security Council to prevent Iran from upgrading its ballistic missiles program or boost its offensive military capabilities. These restrictions also apply to the maintenance of Iran’s existing weapons systems.

Going by the evidence published by the German daily, Iran’s underhand military dealings with Russia are a clear violation of the Nuclear Deal that gave Tehran access to billions in frozen assets and boosted country’s oil revenues. German newspaper Die Welt reported:

Russia and Iran are violating the UN Resolution 2231 that prohibits the delivery of heavy and offensive weapon systems. This was revealed by the Welt am Sonntag [Die Welt‘s Sunday edition], citing Western intelligence agencies. In June, aircrafts flew twice from Iran to Khmeimim airport, the most important Russian military base in Syria, in order to bring military supplies that were destined for further transport to Russia — the reports says. The military equipment was then carried on trucks to the Mediterranean port of Tarsus, and loaded on board the Russian ship Sparta III. After couple of days, the ship sailed to Russian port of Novorossyisk on the Black Sea.

Russia and Iran have thus violated the Resolution 2231 of the UN Security council. The resolution [passed in] June 15, which replaced existing sanctions and resolutions [against Tehran] as part of the framework of the Nuclear Deal with Iran, obliges [UN] member states — in appendix B, paragraph 5 — to disclose certain weapon deals with Iran to the Security Council till 2023. Thus “supply, sale or transfer [of] … all type of battle tanks, high calibre artillery, fighter planes, attack helicopters, war ships, rockets or rocket systems” require an approval of the UN. This ban also covers the “manufacture or maintenance” of these weapon types. [Translation by Author]

Screenshot of the report published in DIE WELT showing the satellite image of an Iranian aircraft on the Khmeimim airfield in Syria:

“The Welt am Sonntag report, citing Western intelligence officials, should trigger an immediate investigation by the UN and Western powers who negotiated the woefully inadequate Iran nuclear deal.” Benjamin Weinthal, the noted Middle-East expert and research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Legal Insurrection. “Russia was used as a country by Iran’s regime to circumvent nuclear and weapons sanctions prior to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. And given the intense Russia-Iranian military partnership in Syria to wipe out all moderate opposition to Assad, the Welt am Sonntag‘s findings mesh with the nefarious activities of both Putin and Iran’s radical clerical leadership.”

Despite the bombshell revelations by the leading German daily, The New York Times again came to the defense of its favourite deal. In its yesterday’s editorial the paper wrote, “Trump is recklessly trying to do by pressing his administration to declare, with absolutely no evidence, that Iran is in violation of the terms.” For the New York Times, an Iranian aircraft loaded with military hardware sitting on a Russian airbases counts as “absolutely no evidence”.

That should not surprise anyone, considering President Obama took Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa “against the development of nuclear weapons” as an ironclad guarantee for this deal. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon,” Obama assured everyone before the deal was formally announced.

With Obama-Kerry Nuclear Deal in place, Tehran is free to enrich uranium in its nuclear facilities and fine tune its long-range ballistic missiles. The deal freed $100 billion of previously frozen assets, and gave Iran access to international banking system. European countries such as Germany, France and Italy have since signed lucrative oil deals to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

The New York Times complained in its yesterday’s editorial that “[critics] ignore the fact that the deal is working”.  And this one time, I agree with NYT, for the Iranian Mullahs eying a nuclear arsenal, the deal is working very well.


[Cover image via YouTube]

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