UN Security Council Resolution 2231 Banning Missile Transfers To Iran Expires

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by blueapples
Thursday, Oct 19, 2023 - 17:21

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With the eyes of the world transfixed upon the UN Security Council's vote on whether or not to seek a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a less heralded event coming out of the council may prove to be even more consequential should that conflict widen. October 18th marked the expiration of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The resolution was passed in 2015 as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. One core component of the provisions set forth by the resolution was the prohibition of transferring missiles, drones, and adjacent weapons technologies to and from Iran. With the resolution's expiration, Iran is now free to send and receive those arms.

With the risk of a northern front emerging in the conflict between Israel and Hamas that would see Hezbollah enter intro the fray, the ability to Iran to freely transfer its military technology looms large. Israel has expressed its concern about Hezbollah using the vulnerability presented by the IDF's focus on an impending ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to its advantage by launching an offensive out of southern Lebanon. As a conduit of Iran, that risk is exacerbated by Lebanon's ability to now receive advanced military technologies from its middle eastern ally.

While Iran has made no declaration of its intent to supply weapons to Lebanon and inevitably into the hands of Hezbollah, another ally of the Islamic republic has spoken about its intentions in the wake of the resolution's expiration. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued remarks on the matter stating "Supplies to and from Iran of products falling under the Missile Technology Control Regime no longer require prior approval by the U.N. Security Council," on Tuesday. Although the ministry's tight lipped remarks did not delve into any forthcoming plans to aid in the advancement of Iran's missile development program, the absence of any internationally binding resolution on the matter foreshadows that inevitability.

Since the onset of the Russia - Ukrainian war, Moscow has emphasized the imperative of furthering its working alliance with Tehran in an effort to reciprocally benefit each other's national security in a joint effort to work toward a multi-polar world order furthering each nation from the sphere of US influence. With nothing inhibiting each nation's ability to transfer arms between themselves, that initiative looks to accelerate.

The Russian Federation's response to the expiation of Resolution 2231 was met by the United States reiterating its existing position. The US State Department issued a joint statement on behalf or itself and 46 other nations allied with it on this front, including Israel and Ukraine -- two nations at the center of the burgeoning theater of global conflict at risk of further escalation. The statement read, in part:

Specifically, with regard to Iran and consistent with the PSI principles, we affirm our commitment to take all necessary measures to prevent the supply, sale, or transfer of ballistic missile-related items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology, to protect peace and stability in the region and beyond including: (1) undertake effective measures to interdict the transfer to and from Iran of missile-related materials, including those related to UAVs; (2) adopt streamlined procedures for rapid exchange of relevant information concerning Iran’s proliferation activities; (3) review and work to strengthen our relevant national legal authorities to address Iranian missile- and UAV-related issues; and (4) take specific actions in support of interdiction efforts related to Iran’s missile and UAV programs.

However, finding a mechanism to effectuate that intent will prove to be more difficult than before following Washington's decision to veto a UN Security Council Resolution calling for humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip introduced by Brazil. "We have just been witnesses once again of hypocrisy and the double standards of our American colleagues," said Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. A similar resolution drafted by Russia was voted down by the council on Monday.

The Russian Federation would go on to magnify the impact of the US' opposition to these resolutions, calling on the 193-member U.N. General Assembly to be convened for an emergency special session on the conflict in Israel. Russia could introduce a similar resolution to the UN General Assembly in the event of an emergency session that would be immune from being vetoed as participants would not wield that same power like they do on the UN Security Council. However, any such resolution passed by the general assembly would not be binding as it would be if it were by the security council.

The confluence of uncertainty coming out of the UN Security Council over the last week conveys how deeply fractured existing global political order is. In the wake of that division, the ramifications of its restructuring come at a time where they will have an indelible impact on conflicts that risk to put the most powerful militaries in the worlds at further odds against one another. If that consequence is to transcend proxy wars being fought in the middle east and eastern Europe into direct military engagements, the scale of them could manifest into a third world war. If it indeed does, the course laid by the UN Security Council this week may prove to be the fork in the road that led to that catastrophe.

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