The days when Iran was punished for violating international law are gone. For many, it is baffling that the country is now able to do so, particularly following the nuclear deal. In clear defiance of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), Tehran test-fired long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles several times. In October and November, it also tested a new ballistic missile that can carry multiple warheads.
This week, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin regarding delivery of the S-400 air defense system - a more advanced form of the S-300 - and the purchase of sophisticated Russian tanks and jet fighters. These developments took place after Iran received billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.
UNSC resolution 2231 bans Iran from purchasing “battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters [and] warships” without prior U.N. approval.
UNSC resolution 1929 states: “Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and... States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”
Regarding the $8 billion contract between Iran and Russia, Tehran is concentrating on buying offensive weapons such as Su-30 fighter jets, and making its air force superior to that of Turkey and Arab states. With a robust military on the ground and powerful supporting air force, Tehran will be much better able to direct the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, as well as reduce the number of its casualties.
Iran exaggerates its military power, but if it is not sent a strong message soon, it will be too late to contain it.Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Iran would not have announced such a provocative deal without an implicit green light from the United States and other UNSC members. Not having a clear agenda on how to deal with the Syrian crisis and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Western powers have put Tehran in the driver’s seat. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is exploiting this situation.
With a powerful military, the IRGC and Iranian leaders can not only frighten domestic opponents, but also gain the respect of world powers and send a message to countries in the region that they should not dare challenge Iran, that it can purchase whatever offensive weaponry it wants, that the West is on its side, and that even the United Nations will not object to its actions.
The UNSC comprises five permanent members: Russia and China are on Tehran’s side, and Britain and France typically align with the United States. With U.S. President Barack Obama not wanting to scuttle his crowning foreign-policy accomplishment - the nuclear deal - every UNSC member now backs Iran .
Tehran will be best contained if regional powers sanction it for violating international law. Iran exaggerates its military power, but if it is not sent a strong message soon, it will be too late to contain it.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC. He can be contacted at: Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu, or on Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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