US State Dept ‘Threatens Sanctions’ on Russia-Iran Arms Deal

Per the news earlier this week of Russia’s state arms trader Rosboronexport completing delivery of a set of TOR-M1 defense missiles to Iran, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that the United States may consider imposing sanctions as a response. mccormack.jpg State Dept. Spokesperson McCormack believes the Iranians were surprised by Russia’s endorsement of the UN resolution Here is the English-language coverage from Russia: Pravda: USA may impose sanctions against Russia for selling 29 Tor-M1 complexes to Iran MOSNEWS: Russia Should Be Sanctioned for Selling Arms to Iran — U.S. Official Kommersant: U.S. May Impose Sanctions on Russia for Tor-M1 Deliveries However, looking at what McCormack actually said doesn’t quite live up to the headlines. Here is the transcript from the press briefing yesterday:

QUESTION: You noticed that the Russians delivered advanced air defense missile systems to Iran? MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, saw that and we’ve — you know, we’ve made our views clear on that. We raised with the Russians whether or not it was really the right moment, given the circumstances, to go through with that sale to Iran. We’ve raised the issue with them. They decided to go through with the sale. There are certainly laws and regulations that have to — that would trigger a review of that sale and whether or not there are any actions that we are required to take in reaction to that. But at this point, I couldn’t tell you, I couldn’t give you an assessment of what the findings of that — those reviews might be. QUESTION: Whose laws are you talking about? MR. MCCORMACK: What’s that? QUESTION: U.S. laws? MR. MCCORMACK: Yes, yeah, our — QUESTION: What kind of review? MR. MCCORMACK: Reviews in — I can’t tell you the specific laws, George. I can get you a citation. But it has to do with trading in military equipment with Iran. QUESTION: Isn’t this — can I just finish? Isn’t this another indication, though, that the diplomatic process, particularly with Russia, if you — if it goes to the UN again, if there’s another resolution, doesn’t this require some review? Because it’s clear that Russia continues this kind of relationship. And again, I’m going to quote Bolton. He says, “The Russians did an outstanding job from the Iranian point of view of weakening resolutions, so Iran at this point would proceed.” MR. MCCORMACK: They also voted for the resolution at the end of the day and that’s going to have a real effect on the Iranians’ ability to develop their nuclear weapons program and also develop their missile technology programs. It’s not a perfect resolution. I will grant you that right up front. But it does have a very real effect and at the end of the day, the Russians did vote for it and I think that surprised the Iranians. I think that they might have been counting on some cover from other countries in the international system and they didn’t get it. They didn’t get it because of their behavior. And I think that that was a real shock to the system for them.