U.S. Says Iranian Military Figure’s Visit to Russia Violates U.N. Ban

August 13, 2015

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The State Department said Wednesday that a recent visit to Moscow by the head of Iran’s paramilitary Quds force had violated a United Nations travel ban that has been imposed because of concerns about Tehran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“We’ve raised this travel with senior Russian Foreign Ministry officials,” said Mark Toner, the deputy State Department spokesman. He added thatRussia had not responded to the American complaint, but he underscored that the United States would ask the United Nations Security Council to investigate the trip.

“We intend to work with the Security Council” to ensure that there is “a full, thorough, adequately run investigation, as well as sufficient follow-up,” Mr. Toner said.

The Iranian general at the heart of the complaint is Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, an operative who has the backing of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. General Suleimani has been directing Iran’s military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and for Shiite militias in Iraq, and is believed to be directing Tehran’s backing for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

A Security Council resolution adopted in 2007 calls for a travel ban on General Suleimani and other Iranian officials because of their links to Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs. That ban is to be lifted after eight years, according to the accord that was negotiated last month on Iran’s nuclear program.

But the fact that General Suleimani has traveled to Moscow has added to worries among some American lawmakers about how rigorously the new agreement, if it takes effect, might be enforced by Russia and other nations.

“It further delegitimizes the deal in the eyes of some members of Congress, including some who are on the fence,” said Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a sharp critic of the agreement.

Even for supporters of the accord, General Suleimani’s travel raises questions about Russia’s intentions. The Obama administration has repeatedly asserted that Russia was helpful in negotiating the nuclear accord. Last month, President Obama called President Vladimir V. Putin to thank him for Russia’s “important role in achieving this milestone,” the administration said in a July statement.

But a closer look at the negotiating record shows that Russia sometimes complicated the Obama administration’s effort. Secretary of State John Kerry has acknowledged that Russia supported Iran’s demand that a United Nations arms embargo on Tehran be lifted immediately…

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