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Kerry: No Sanctions Against Conventional Arms and Missile Technology in Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of State Kerry appeared on a Reuters Newsmaker interview today with the apt title of Iran: Moment of Truth. He dropped another bombshell, this time about the lifting of UN sanctions barring Iran’s purchase of conventional arms and missile technology. Kerry indicated there would be snap back of arms sanctions. However, during a recent House Armed Services Committee Hearing, he admitted lifting of financial sanctions would enable deliveries of arms to terror proxies in the Middle East threatening both Americans and Israelis.

Iran demanded and the Administration negotiating team consented to lift bans on Iranian purchases of conventional arms and missile technology adopted under 2010 UN Security Resolution 1929. At the time of the adoption of those UN sanctions both Israel and the US had objected to the sale of the Russian S-300 system to Iran. This comes in the wake of a trip to Moscow on July 24th by Qod’s Force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani to expedite the delivery of the advanced Russian S-300 air defense system . Russian’s Putin had lifted the ban in mid- April 2015 following the announcement of the framework for the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  The JCPOA was announced in Vienna on July 14th and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council on July 22nd. This was just prior to Gen. Soleimani’s trip to Moscow to meet both Putin and Russian Defense Minister Shogui. Add to that the announced $10 billion dollar oil barter deal with China for stealth fighter jets and it would appear that once again, Iran has been allowed to breach conventional arms sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had suggested that expediting lifting these arms sale bans would enable sales would enable Iran and Syria to combat the Islamic State.

Reuters reported these latest revelations by Kerry:

Violations of an arms embargo by Iran or restrictions on its missile program would not force an automatic reinstatement or “snapback” of United Nations sanctions under a landmark nuclear deal, although other options would be available, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

“The arms embargo is not tied to snapback,” Kerry said. “It is tied to a separate set of obligations. So they are not in material breach of the nuclear agreement for violating the arms piece of it.”

“There is a specific U.N. resolution outside of this agreement that prohibits them from sending weapons to Hezbollah. There is a separate and specific U.N. resolution that prohibits them from sending weapons to the Shia militia in Iraq,” he said.

Kerry added that similar U.N. restrictions banned arms sales to the Houthis in Yemen, North Korea and other potential recipients of weapons from Iran.

Tehran has consistently violated the U.N. arms embargo and missile sanctions. Since 2010, those breaches have been documented by the U.N. panel of experts on Iran.

Kerry said a new U.N. monitoring mechanism would have to be created to replace the panel of experts, suggesting that much of the monitoring work could be done by the United States and its allies on their own.

“We’re not dependent on the U.N. to do that and I think Israel and others are much happier that we’re not,” he said. “We will depend on our own intel community, on our own military, on our own information, we will work with Israel, and we will work with others.”

Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi made clear last month that Tehran had no intention of complying with the arms embargo and missile sanctions.

“Whenever it’s needed to send arms to our allies in the region, we will do so,” he said. “We are not ashamed of it.”

Watch the Washington Free Beacon YouTube video of Secretary Kerry’s Reuters Newsmaker interview:

Watch this response by Kerry to this issue in this C-Span video clip during a House Hearing Armed Services Committee Hearing:

Syrian made M-302 missiles captured by Israeli Naval Commandos from Klos-C March 2015  Ariel Schalit AP

M-302 missiles captured by Israeli Naval commandos on display in Eilat March 2014Source:  AP/Ariel Schalit.

Notwithstanding and even before the 2010 UN conventional arms sanctions were adopted, Israel has unilaterally intercepted shipments attacked arms deliveries to Iranian proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel is not waiting around for implementation of UN arms control and missile technology sanctions or any Presidential executive orders by the Obama Administration to defend against Iran violations. Israel naval commandos intercepted Iranian shipments of conventional arms and missiles in both the Mediterranean off Gaza and in the Red Sea.  In March 2014 the Klos C  was boarded by Israeli Naval commandos in the Red Sea and brought to the Port of Eilat.  Multiple IAF attacks on missile and other weaponry  prevented deliveries for proxy to Hezbollah in both Syria and Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

In an NER/Iconoclast post yesterday on” Obama’s Dangerous Spin on Iran Nuclear Deal,” this writer suggested the latest conventional arms sanctions by Iran with the connivance of both Russia and China may have jeopardized any military option by the U.S. or Israel. I suggested that this was a breach of both UN travel bans on the Quds Force Commander as well as the UN Resolution 1929 sanctions against purchase of conventional weapons and missile technology precluded by both five and eight year  sunsets under the JCPOA.  It makes any military option harder by orders of magnitude. While both the U.S. and Israel aren’t without resources of their own, Iran’s  breaches of sanctions makes the decision to use American of Israeli military power more complicated.  Kerry’s Reuters Newsmakers interview comments today virtually confirmed that assessment.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in New York August 11, 2015. Source: Reuters/Brendan McDermid.

Iranian Rockets Bound for Gaza Terrorists Seized

Credit the Israeli Naval Commandos of Sayeret 13 and missile boats with another coup seizing the Panamanian flagged vessel, the KLOS-C packed with clearly marked Iranian M302 Rockets bound ultimately for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  You may recall the Sayeret 13 boarded the Turkish ferry the Mavi Mamara in the May 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla.  This time Iran has used Syria for transshipment of a consignment of M302 rockets via Iraq in the Persian Gulf.  The raid on the KLOS-C occurred in the Red Sea  off Port Sudan just before off loading for shipment  to Gaza via  Salafist Jihadist helpers in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula .  The M302 rockets have a range of  200 KM threatening all of the populous central Israel.

Watch this IDF video of the KLOS-C seizure of Iranian M302 rockets:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ob6X07EzuX8[/youtube]

The Jerusalem  and Washington  Post accounts note this most recent episode in a more than 14 year history of IDF seizures, a credit to diligent naval intelligence as well as Israel’s special operations prowess.  Here are some excerpts from the Washington Post report :

The ship, the KLOS C, was carrying Syrian-made M-302 rockets and was intercepted more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Israel off the coasts of Sudan and Eritrea, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.

[…]

Previously, Gaza militants have only been able to reach about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Israel with their homegrown M-75 missiles.  Hezbollah used M-302s in a 2006 war against Israel, the military said.

The operation, codenamed “Full Disclosure,” followed months of intelligence gathering. Lerner said the shipment originated in Syria. From there the weapons were flown to Iran and departed from the Bandar Abbas port. Lerner said the Iranians tried to “obscure their tracks” by shipping first via Iraq and then out to sea. The shipment was destined for Sudan, from where it was to be moved overland through Egypt to Gaza.

Lerner said the 17 crew members of the ship, flying under a Panama flag, were not suspects and were probably unaware of the content of their cargo. The vessel was being brought to the port of Eilat, Israel’s most southerly point, where the crew would be released and the cache unloaded. It was expected to arrive later this week.

The Washington Post chronicled the more than decade history of Israeli Naval seizures and air strikes against  Iranian weapons shipments to Gaza:

Three years ago, Israel seized the cargo ship Victoria loaded with weapons allegedly sent by Iran to Gaza , including land-to-sea missiles.

In November 2009, Israel took over the Iranian Francop vessel off the coast of Cyprus and captured hundreds of tons of rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and anti-tank weapons on board that it said were headed to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Israel is also suspected of carrying out airstrikes in Sudan on arms shipments believed to be bound for Gaza. Israel has never confirmed carrying out the strikes.

In January 2002, Israeli forces stormed the Karine A freighter on the Red Sea, and confiscated what the military said was 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for the Gaza Strip.

In May 2001, Israel captured the vessel Santorini off its coastline, packed with explosives Israel said were being sent from Hezbollah to Palestinian militant groups.

The Jerusalem Post report drew attention to Iran’s use of Syria for transshipment of rockets and others strategic weapons to terrorist proxies in the Middle East:

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said that the operation was made possible by inter-agency intelligence cooperation and the IDF’s enhanced capabilities. “This prevented the arrival of a shipment of deadly and advanced weapons, which was aimed at harming Israeli civilians, and intended to reach the terrorist organizations of the Gaza Strip who are waging confrontation against Israel.”

The spokesman added that special commando navy teams acted in accordance with international law during the raid and boarded the ship for armed searches before uncovering the rockets.

Iran flew the rockets to an Iranian air field, trucked them to a sea port, and shipped them to Iraq, where they were hidden in cement sacks.

The ship then set sail from Iraq to Port Sudan, near the Sudanese-Eritrean border, on a journey expected to last some ten days.

Had the shipment of rockets not been intercepted the rockets would likely have been unloaded in Egypt and taken by land over Sinai to smuggling tunnels into Gaza.

One day before reaching its destination, the Israel Navy pounced, raiding the vessel and bringing it under its full control. There were no injuries in the incident.

“We have certain proof that Iran was behind this,” a senior military source said.

“The final destination was the Gaza Strip, where Iran hoped to unload the rockets and transfer them to terrorist organizations,” he added.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and smaller groups are constantly working to build up their rocket arsenal, and are believed to have several thousand short range rockets that threaten southern cities and dozens of medium-range rockets that can reach greater Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

By the end of 2013, Hamas was estimated by Israeli intelligence to possess 5000 short-range rockets and dozens of medium-range rockets, placing 70 percent of Israeli civilians in its range.

Gaza today has some 25,000 armed fighters. Of those, 16,000 belong to Hamas divisions. The Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters, split up into five divisions, and is armed with more than 2,000 rockets. Smaller terror groups have over 4,000 terrorists among their ranks, and are armed with dozens of rockets, as well as a large quantity of light arms.

In addition to replenishing its rocket arsenal, Hamas is trying to create capabilities to launch terror attacks, and possesses anti-aircraft missiles as well.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured composite photographic image is courtesy of CrownHeights.info.