General Qasem Soleimani, of the Iranian Quds Force. (Iranproject) (Iranproject)
qasem soleimani
MarkToner

State Department spokesman Mark Toner. (Screenshot)

The US fears that Russia has already violated the nuclear accord with Iran, only days after it was signed.

The nuclear deal with Iran is only weeks old and has not been completely authorized, but the US fears that accord had already been breached by Iran and Russia

Mark Toner, a State Department deputy spokesperson, was asked during the daily briefing on Wednesday about the report published on Fox News that General Qasem Soleimani, of the Iranian Quds Force, had secretly traveled to Russia in the second part of July, apparently in violation of existing US and UN Security Council (USNC) sanctions on him.

Soleimani is a major general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and, since 1998, commander of its Quds Force—a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military, terror and clandestine operations. He is suspected to be responsible for multiple American deaths.

Sanctions and travel bans were placed on Soleimani and other Iranian generals because of their connections to Iran’s balletic missile and nuclear programs. According to the deal, the sanctions on Soleimani are to be removed only in eight years,

Toner conceded that the trip, which was made before the UNSC voted to remove the sanctions, was in fact a violation of UNSC resolutions and “thus a serious matter of concern to the UN Security Council as well as, obviously, to the United States.”

He said the US has raised the issue with “senior Russian foreign ministry officials” and intend to further pursue the issue.

“We intend to work with the Security Council and its Iran Sanctions Committee and the UN’s Iran Panel of Experts, which is a sanctions monitoring team, to ensure, frankly, that there’s a full, thorough, adequate investigation as well as sufficient follow-up. The UN sanctions on Soleimani do remain in effect, and so we call on all countries to respect and enforce all designations made under UN Security Council resolutions.”

He also conceded that Russia has not yet offered a response on the incident, and refused to state clearly that a violations had in fact been committed by Russia.

According to Iranian reports, the purpose of the Iranian general’s visit was to discuss arms sales, and he reportedly met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Toner refused to comment on the issue.

Should America Be Worried?

Am Iranian soldier on the march. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Am Iranian soldier on the march. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

The agreement is only weeks old and has already apparently been breached. Doesn’t this episode raise “very valid concerns about how much cooperation the US and the other members of the P5+1 can expect to receive from Russia” in the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran “when the Russians are colluding actively in a violation of existing sanctions?” Toner was asked.

“We’re following up through the mechanisms that are available to us in the Security Council to ensure that enforcement is carried out,” Toner replied ambiguously.

“Why should the Americans believe that the Russians will be reliable in implementing the terms of the deal once it goes into effect?” the reports pressed.

Toner reiterated the US attempt to carry through and make sure that “whatever applicable sanctions apply, that they’re fully enforced. And I’ll just leave it there.”

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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