Soleimani travels to Russia, again violating UNSC, EU travel ban; Iran claims that Israel is greatest threat to globe given its nuclear arsenal, claims Iran’s nuclear program “peaceful”
Iranian Quds General Qassem Soleimani has once again violated a United Nations travel ban, the general traveling to Russia on Tuesday.
Soleimani is a senior commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force deemed a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council and European Union which both placed travel bans on Soleimani in 2011, as well as sanctions placed on the terrorist under United Nations Security Council resolution 1747 from 2007.
The Quds Force focuses on out-of-state operations, including covert operations and support of numerous terrorist organizations through out the Middle East.
In July of 2015, Soleimani met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, their meeting centered on moving forward with plans to proceed with the delivery of S-300 missile systems Iran purchased from Russia, as well as Russian involvement in assisting Assad’s regime.
No action was taken for his travel ban violation by the United Nations, EU or United States, the United States stating at the time “We will maintain sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, its leadership – including Qassem Soleimani – and its entire network.”
In July of 2016, the same week that Russia delivered its first shipment of S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, Soleimani secretly met with Putin, Shoigu and Russian military officials, their meeting centered on “the delivery of S-300s and further military cooperation,” as well as coordinated military efforts in Syria.
In August of 2016, Iran deployed its Russian acquired S-300 missile defense system around its underground nuclear facility Fordo outside of Tehran. Video footage of the system at the underground nuclear site was shown on Iranian state media on followed by a televised speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali. He claimed the system’s deployment is for “defensive” purposes and criticized the United States’ opposition to Iran’s acquiring the weapon, stating, “Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy. The S-300 air defense system is a defensive instrument, not offensive, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it.”
Soleimani is heavily involved in the training, funding and leading of various Iranian sponsored terrorist groups including Hezbollah, Houthi militant factions, the Syrian Army, Hamas and various Islamic Jihad factions. He is responsible for the death of over 500 American troops who were killed in Iraq.
His travel ban is in place until October of 2020, subject to review by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSC.
Reports of Soleimani’s travel ban come during Iran’s ongoing violations in its missile program. Iran has conducted numerous ballistic missile tests, the last test of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The Trump Administration placed new sanctions on Iran and entities supporting its missile program, Trump stating on Wednesday in a press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu “The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I have talked a lot about, one of the worst deals I have ever seen is the Iran deal. My Administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing- I mean ever- a nuclear weapon.”
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded to Trump’s remarks on Thursday, stating “The Zionist regime [Israel] poses the biggest threat to regional and international peace and security by possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads in its arsenal,” stating consistent to Iran’s claims its missile and nuclear programs are for defensive purposes only “The accusations against Iran are in contradiction to multiple reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which have confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.”