« Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) and Syrian counterpart Bashar al Assad’s close ties will bring more weapons into Iran. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)


Iran Spits in UN’s Face, Buys, Sells Weapons

Numerous reports show that sanctions imposed on Iran by the United Nations to prevent the nation from trading military hardware are worthless. Streams of weapons are flowing in and out of Iran.

Last week, Jane’s Defense Weekly revealed that Iran stands to be a primary benefactor of a massive weapons deal between Russia and Syria. The agreement, revealed to Jane’s by a source close to the deal, is that Moscow will sell fifty 96K6 Pantsyr-S1E self-propelled short-range gun and missile air-defense systems to Damascus, which will in turn sell at least 10 to Tehran.

Army-Technology.com reports that Russia’s Pantsyr-S1 close-in defense system is “designed to defend ground installations against a variety of weapons including both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, ballistic and cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions and unmanned air vehicles. It can also engage light-armoured ground targets.”

Naturally, Russia’s formal reponse to the incriminating Jane’s report was diplomatic and proper. First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters that the “terms of the contract with Syria forbade the resale of weapons to third countries unless Russia gave its express agreement.” Fact is, as much as Russia might deny approving the weapons sale to Iran, Moscow’s history with the Middle Eastern rogue says otherwise; Russia has been one of Iran’s strongest allies in its resistance to America and the West and has long been intimately involved in the Iranian nuclear program.

But there are other alarming facets to this story beyond Russian weapons infiltrating Iran.

First, UN sanctions clearly are not dissuading Tehran from purchasing weapons. Iran can simply purchase weapons through a third party without repercussions. Second, this deal shows that there are other nations (in this case Syria, and, indirectly, Russia) who are unafraid to sell weapons to Iran. These factors alone expose the hollowness of the misguided faith that so many place in the United Nations.

Third, if Iran is freely purchasing weapons from other nations, it stands to reason that it might also be selling its weapons to others. Earlier this week, think tank Geostrategy-Direct cited industry sources that said “Iran continues to negotiate and conclude arms sales agreements with clients in Africa, Asia and South America for a range of platforms and upgrades,” and that the deals are being “conducted through fronts to avoid UN Security Council sanctions.” In 2006, Iran reported more than $100 million in defense sales to nearly 70 nations. All this too, flagrantly defies the UN efforts to isolate Iran.

The fourth concern this deal raises concerns the primary recipient of the Russian arms deal: Why in the world does little Syria need forty high-tech defense systems? Western leaders, particulary Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, need to seriously consider the implications of this purchase by Syria, a nation whose only major concern in the region is Israel. Two reasons immediately come to mind. First, Syria could seek to sell the systems to other nations like it sold 10 systems to Iran. Second, and far more concerning, evidence supports the idea that there a broader plan for a regional conflict ruminating in the minds of Syria, Iran and their terrorist supporters. Is this the core reason some fifty high-tech Russian made defense systems are about to be trucked into the Middle East? Either way, this deal should give pause to the posse of Western politicians, including Olmert, entertaining the idea of engaging Syria in diplomatic relations.

The whole affair is remarkably telling. The idea that sanctions will prevent Iran from pursuing its aggressive ambitions is false. If nations are serious about containing Iran, they will have to pursue alternative means of doing so. If they do not, we can expect Iran to continue taking steps toward achieving its goal of becoming king of the Middle East

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