Reuters reports that in light of the apparent violation, the US raised the issue of the Emad test at a gathering of the Security Council on Wednesday. The US delivered a letter to the UN body’s Iran sanctions committee, urging action to vigorously enforce all UN measures as long as they remain in place, for instance by blacklisting individuals and entities found to be associated with the violations.
But the Reuters report also acknowledged that no such enforcement issues are likely to pass the Security Council, owing to the veto power enjoyed by Russia and China, both of which are increasingly close allies of Tehran. Thus, while the Emad test raises the issue of Iranian belligerence toward or non-cooperation with Western powers, the topic of enforcement highlights how Iran’s broadening influence may be providing it with additional cover for those activities.
The question of Iran’s relationship with Russia has been a hot button issue since early this month when the Russian military began air strikes in support of the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and the Iranian-led forces already fighting on his behalf. The air strikes coincided with the formation of an intelligence-sharing apparatus headquartered in Baghdad and including representatives of Iran, Russia, Syria, and Iraq.
On Wednesday, Kuwait News Agency reported that Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi used a meeting with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford to assure him that Iraq’s military cooperation with Iran, Russia, and Syria is not a threat to US interests, and is not intended to be directed against the US or any other country.
For his part, Dunford spoke highly of the prospect of expanded US-Iraqi collaboration. But the fact that Obaidi felt the need to comment on the possible danger to US interests suggests that it is recognized as a genuine danger in at least some Western policy circles.
Critics of the Iranian regime, such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran, have long been urging US policymakers to confront and diminish Iranian influence in Iraq in order to lessen the threat of further sectarian warfare. Such critics place much of the blame for the current crisis on Iran, and blame the current and former Iraqi prime ministers for embracing Iranian Shiite influence and allowing it to operate at odds with US influence.
If Iranian-Iraqi collaboration is as powerful as such groups suggest, it stands to be affected by the increased strength provided by Russia, a global superpower. This strength may come from political and military leverage as well as from mutual economic support aimed at expanding that leverage. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Moscow was considering issuing a five billion dollar loan to Iran, at the latter’s request.
Any such investments have better prospects of generating returns in the wake of the forthcoming implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, and the associated opening of the Iranian market to foreign investors from across the world, including Europe and North America. Critics of the Iranian regime naturally fear that a surge of such investment will contribute to the further expansion of Iranian influence and to more aggressive Iranian intervention in regional conflicts.
With this in mind, the NCRI and other opponents of the regime continue to attempt to push back against warming political and economic relations between Iran and Western governments. But Reuters reported on Wednesday that that warming has now led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to make plans for his first visit to a European capital.
Following upon visits to Tehran by various European trade delegations and economy ministers, Rouhani will be visiting Rome on November 14 and 15 and then Paris from 16th until the 18th.