by WorldTribune Staff, May 4, 2017
Iran is using billions in funds that were freed up under the nuclear deal with world powers to finance an unprecedented military buildup, a report said.
Iran’s defense budget has increased by 145 percent under President Hassan Rouhani and the military is moving forward with a massive restructuring effort aimed at making it “a forward moving force,” Iranian officials said late last month, according to a May 3 report by the Washington Free Beacon.
“Obama and Kerry might as well have wired the money directly into the accounts of those seeking to enhance Iran’s military, kill Sunnis, or sponsor terrorism,” Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser, told the Free Beacon.
Rubin said the latest disclosure on Teheran’s military buildup comes as “no surprise to anyone who studied Iran” and should have been anticipated by the Obama administration, which largely sought to downplay the importance of giving Iran billions in cash resources.
“First, there’s history: Between 1998 and 2005, European Union trade with Iran more than doubled and the price of oil quintupled,” Rubin said.
“Iran took that hard currency windfall and invested the bulk of it in its nuclear and missile programs. The person coordinating Iran’s strategy? Hassan Rouhani who was at the time secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.”
While using cash released under the nuclear agreement to fund the purchase of new military equipment and other armaments, Iran also has pursued multi-million dollar arms deals with Russia since economic sanctions were negated as part of the deal, the Free Beacon report said.
Members of Congress and U.S. officials suspect that at least a portion of the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran has been used to fund and support terrorists in the Middle East.
“President Obama flat-out caved in to Iran when he handed them the disastrous nuclear deal and $1.7 billion in cash payments that could assist Iran’s military,” Rep. Sean Duffy, Wisconsin Republican, told the Free Beacon. “So it’s no surprise that the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism would feel emboldened to become more aggressive in the region and flex its military muscle.”
The goal of turning Iran’s army into an “offensive” force, is a major shift from its historic role as a support agent for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s well-funded primary fighting force. Iranian officials said the Islamic Republic hopes to revamp the army from top to bottom, including improving logistical capabilities, weaponry, and other armaments.
Mahan Abedin, an Iran analyst writing in Middle East Eye, said the shift in policy would allow Iran to intervene in the Persian Gulf region, where the U.S. military has a significant presence.
“This is a major policy announcement with far-reaching consequences for foreign policy and internal defense-related power dynamics,” Abedin wrote. “If implemented properly, the proposed modernization policy would not only radically alter Iranian defense doctrine, but just as importantly, it would also reverse the army’s subservient relationship to the IRGC.”
Iran’s military announcement has already sparked a renewed push on Capitol Hill to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran.
“The Iranians know that the party will end this fall, when Congress will pass bipartisan legislation that begins to roll back Iran’s military growth,” one senior congressional adviser working on the sanctions effort told the Free Beacon.
“The Obama administration avoided any serious action for years, and so Iran kept growing its arsenal and using it against our allies, against Syrian civilians, and increasingly against our military,” said the source. “Now they’re rushing to accomplish as much as they can before Congress and the Trump administration get around to reversing Obama’s policies.”