The world powers' view of Iran has significantly shifted. Those days in which Iran was being punished for violating the law seem to have gone. For many, it is baffling that Iran is now capable of getting away with breaking international laws, particularly in the last few months after the nuclear deal was reached between the six world powers (known as P5+1; China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany) and the Islamic Republic.
Lets take a look at some of the latest violations which are linked to Iran's military institutions. In clear violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, Iranian leaders test-fired, long-range ballistic missiles and laser-guided surface-to-surface missiles several times. Additionally, in October and November, Iran tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads.
This week, as the Iranian and Russian media outlets boasted, the Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, who was reportedly the architect of the 1983 terror bombing that killed 241 Americans in Beirut, Lebanon held talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu as well as President Vladimir Putin regarding delivery of The S-400 air defense system, a more advanced form of the S-300, and the purchase of Russia's most sophisticated and powerful offensive weapons, such as tanks and jet fighters.
This development came just after Iran has received billions of dollars worth of sanctions relief.
Several UN and Nuclear Laws Are Violated
It worth noting that this contract and Iran's similar activities are in violation of several critical U.N. Resolutions. First is U.N. Resolution no. 2231, that clearly bans the Islamic Republic from purchasing "battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships..." without prior approval from the U.N.
The second is the United Nations Security Council resolution 1929 that states "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities".
The third one is the JCPOA (UNSCR 2231 Annex II, paragraph three) that points out that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missile activity "until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier."
Offensive Strength, Iran's Air Force
Currently, the major questions to address are: What aspect of its military is Iran attempting to strengthen? Why does the UN continue to ignore the Islamic Republic when it is clearly violating its resolutions? And, why does Iran so publicly announce such actions which are violations of the UNSC resolutions?
If we closely analyze the 8 billion dollar contract between Iran and Russia, Iranian leaders are mainly concentrating on buying offensive weapons such as Su-30 fighter jets.
In fact, this is the first time that Iran is publicly announcing that it is upgrading its offensive weaponries. Even the S-400, despite being characterized as defensive in nature, can be utilized by Iranians to defend their nuclear sites.
Most specifically, Iran is advancing its air force. Tehran has an adequate number of ground forces to operate in foreign countries, support or train Shiite proxies(including in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain), but Iran desires to deploy its air force and make it superior to that of Turkey or other Arab nations in the region.
With a robust military on the ground and powerful air force supporting the forces, for example in Syria and Iraq, Tehran will be in much better position to direct the conflicts in its own geopolitical and ideological interests, as well as, reduce the number of its casualties.
Green Light from the UNSC Members to Iran
On the other hand, Iranian leaders would not have announced such a provocative deal without receiving an implicit green light from the White House and other powers in the UNSC, or without being cognizant that world powers will not react to Iran.
Not having a clear agenda on how to deal with the crisis in Syria and rise of the Islamic State, the US and other Western powers have given the driver's seat to the Islamic Republic. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, on the other hand, is exploiting this situation, to make its organization a regional military empire.
By having the most powerful military in the region, IRGC and Iranian leaders not only can frighten domestic oppositions, but can also attract the world powers respect, and send a message to other countries in the region, that Iran is back, that Iran has the power to purchase any offensive weaponry it wants, that the West is on the side of Iran, that even the UN will not object Iran's actions; and that no regional countries should dare to challenge Iran.
Finally, with regard to the UN, the UN is primarily the five members of Security Council. Russia and China are on the side of Iran and the European states follow the US footsteps and their own economic interests. The US, President Obama to be more specific, currently does not want to scuttle his crowning foreign policy "accomplishment"- the nuclear deal. As a result, every member of the UNSC is backing Iran. There are no reasons for the UN (the five members) to politically or economically punish Iran for violating international laws and terms of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) .
Iran will be best contained if regional powers unite and take actions for Iran's violations of international laws. Iran projects the capabilities of its military power to be more than what it really is. Iran is actually more vulnerable than it projects to regional powers. However, if a strong message not sent to Iran soon, it will be too late to contain the IRGC's military stranglehold and empire, Tehran's regional hegemonic ambitions, as well as Iran's relentless pursuit to be treated as the superior power in the region.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, business advisor and the president of the International American Council on the Middle East. Harvard-educated, Rafizadeh serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review. An American citizen, he is originally from Iran and Syria, lived most of his life in Iran and Syria till recently. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Arabic and Persian. He also speaks English and Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew.
You can learn more about Dr. Rafizadeh on HERE.
You can contact him at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @Dr_Rafizadeh. This post first appeared on Al Arabiya.