Kerry Won’t Commit to Veto Russia’s Sale of Fighter Jets to Iran

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Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit Thursday to the United States using its United Nations Security Council veto to stop Russia from selling fighter jets to Iran, saying he didn’t know about the specific transfer and would “stay in touch” regarding the sale.

However, the State Department said last week that the proposed sale of Sukhoi-30 warplanes would violate the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asked Kerry about the sale Thursday, pointing out the Security Council would have to approve it under UNSC Resolution 2231.

“Will we use our veto to prevent fighter planes from being sold to Iran from Russia?” Sherman asked.

“Well, I don’t think you have to use a veto. I think it’s a matter of a committee,” Kerry said. “There’s a committee and it’s in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it.”

“And would we use our veto if necessary to prevent the sale?” Sherman asked.

“I haven’t looked at the specifics of the transaction, et cetera,” Kerry said. “In principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons and so, you know, we would approach it with great skepticism. But I haven’t seen the specific transfer or what the request is. We have a committee that will analyze this thoroughly before anything happens and the committee signs off on it, I assure you. We’ll stay in touch with you.”

The Sukhoi Su-30SM jet, according to the Times of Israel, is capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground strikes and “can be quipped with a wide variety of precision munitions.”

Full exchange:

BRAD SHERMAN: Under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Russia can’t sell fighter planes to Iran unless the Security Council specifically approves that. I’ll ask you. Will we use our veto to prevent fighter planes from being sold to Iran from Russia?

JOHN KERRY: Well, I don’t think you have to use a veto. I think it’s a matter of a committee. There’s a committee and it’s in approval in the committee, but we would not approve it.

SHERMAN: And would we use our veto if necessary to prevent the sale?

KERRY: To the best of my knowledge, Congressman, I don’t–I haven’t looked at the specifics of the transaction, et cetera. In principle, we are very concerned about the transfer of weapons and so, you know, we would approach it with great skepticism. But I haven’t seen the specific transfer or what the request is. We have a committee that will analyze this thoroughly before anything happens and the committee signs off on it, I assure you. We’ll stay in touch with you.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

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