The Obama administration said Thursday that a proposed Russian sale of fighter jets to Iran would violate a U.N. arms embargo on Tehran, setting up another standoff related to last year’s nuclear negotiations.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said transferring the Sukhoi-30 jets, comparable to American F-15E fighter bombers, requires the U.N. Security Council’s approval.
The U.S will raise the matter with Russia, Toner said, adding that all six countries that negotiated July’s landmark nuclear agreement with Iran “should be fully aware of these restrictions.” The deal kept the arms ban on Iran in place for up to another five years. . . . Like the ballistic missiles work, U.S. officials say the Russian plane sale wouldn’t constitute a nuclear deal breach. But it would amount to another in a long string of Iranian transgressions of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Iran certainly learned from the experience in conducting ballistic missile tests: The United States will do nothing to enforce existing restrictions on Iran, so Tehran is free to push the envelope.
In all likelihood, Iran’s strategy will once again be successful. Iran watchers, as the Free Beacon reports, “maintain that the White House is turning a blind eye to Iranian violations of the nuclear accord in order to preserve diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.” Indeed, if the president did not take action in response to the missile tests, to Iran’s heightened involvement in Syria, or to snatching our sailors and using them as propaganda, it’s a good bet the reaction this time will not inflict any meaningful consequences on Iran.
It is precisely this pattern of serial appeasement that Congress should seek to halt. Congress can call hearings, extend sanctions due to expire this year and pass new ones in response to Iran’s constant challenges. It is interesting that this comes as Obama announces a visit to Cuba.
Writing this month, Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht observed: “At its core, the Obama presidency is about propitiating the United States’ enemies who, in the mind of the president and those around him, have been historically transgressed by the American imperium. In the Obama cosmology, Iranian clerics, Cuban Communists, and Chinese chauvinists are all victims of centuries of American and Western abuse and exploitation.” They continue: “No agreement with them should demand reciprocity, since they are the disadvantaged and America is the superpower. Diplomacy in this view cannot be separated from the expiation of past wrongs. It is a variation of social work. The Obama doctrine—’We just can’t get that’—is an inevitable outgrowth of such guilt.”
The simple concept of reciprocity must be restored. Along with that goes the will to hold transgressors accountable for their actions. That is the framework in which Congress should operate. If it does, it will be doing the next president a huge favor. Whoever enters office in 2017 will need to end the runaway concessions and start forcefully protecting U.S. interests. If Congress can hold the line until then, as it did just recently in passing North Korea sanctions, the next president will find it less difficult to turn around a disastrous foreign policy. It will also make the chance of military conflict less likely, for the next president deprived of many nonmilitary tools and confronting foes who doubt our nerve will no doubt be faced with provocations so severe that he or she will have no chance but to respond with the only arrow still in the U.S. quiver: the U.S. military.