Iran's terrorist commander visited Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter, just days after Iran struck a nuclear deal that will lift an arms embargo on the country, Fox News reported Thursday.
Fox reported that Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani violated an international travel ban to visit Russia, whose $6 billion arms trade benefits regimes like China, Myanmar, and the separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
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"What this shows, Bret, is that Gen. Suleimani is increasingly being elevated and recognized as a key player on the world stage as Iranian influence in the region grows despite assurance from Secretary Kerry and others that he will still face sanctions," Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin said.
Gen. Suleimani will receive U.N. sanctions relief as part of the nuclear deal signed several weeks ago. This concession has drawn fierce criticism from some who point out that armor-breeching bombs linked to the Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of 500 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soleimani is increasingly being recognized as a key player and point person as Iranian influence in the region grows, despite assurances from Kerry and others that Soleimani and the Quds Force will continue to face sanctions from the U.S. Treasury after U.N. sanctions are lifted against Soleimani as part of the nuclear deal.
The recent visit between Suleimani and Russian President Vladimir Putin indicates that weapons deals could be in the works between the two countries. Russia announced earlier this year that it would provide Iran with the advanced S-300 air defense missile system, which could be used to protect Iran's nuclear infrastructure from an Israeli or U.S. airstrike.
Iran will receive roughly $100 billion in previously-frozen assets as part of the nuclear deal. It will be able to spend this money on weapons once the international arms embargo on Iran is lifted after five years, a further stipulation of the nuclear deal.