Sec. Kerry Sidesteps Democratic Rep’s Question about Whether US Will Veto Russian Sale of War Plans to Iran

The Daily TIP

The Israel Project

February 25, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry refused to answer whether the U.S. would veto Russia’s sale of Sukhoi-30 fighter jets to Iran in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked Secretary Kerry, “And would we use our veto if necessary to prevent the sale?” Kerry responded that he had not looked at the specifics of the sale but that “[i]n principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons.” He told Rep. Sherman, “We'll stay in touch with you.”

Iran announced that it intended to purchase fighter jets from Russia on February 10. In response, Michael Singh, former senior advisor for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, tweeted, “For the next five years, US or other P5 member could block this per UNSC Res 2231.” As part of UN Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Iran nuclear deal, the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, and France agreed to leave the UN arms and ballistic missile embargoes in place for five and eight years, respectively. According to the resolution, the sale of “combat aircraft” requires the approval of the Security Council “in advance on a case-by-case basis.” Last week, when asked by AP journalist Bradley Klapper whether the sale of the Sukhoi-30 fighter jets would violate the arms embargo, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner confirmed that such a sale would be a violation.

Russia and Iran have intensified their regional aggression in the months since the nuclear deal was reached in July. In October, Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict to prop up Iran’s long-time ally, dictator Bashar al-Assad. Russia has also said that it will deliver the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, a move that could alter the balance of power in the region. International Business Times reported that “Putin had recently said a closer cooperation between Moscow and Tehran would play a pivotal role in the regional security.” Moreover, Russia has reportedly provided sophisticated arms to Iran’s regional proxy Hezbollah. The Lebanese terror group received radar technology from Russia that allows it to “lock on” to Israeli jets conducting reconnaissance missions in Lebanon. Hezbollah can then fire missiles at them. According to the Israeli news site Walla!, an Israeli official said, "The connection between Hezbollah, Russia and Syria have [sic] greatly changed the rules of the game in the region." It has been reported that Hezbollah receives other weapons from Russia such as, “precision ground-to-ground missiles, long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons.”