GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase

GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase
© Getty

Thirty-four Republican senators are pushing the State Department to confirm Russia and Iran violated a United Nations Security Council resolution when Russia launched its Syria airstrikes from an Iranian airbase this summer.

“We should be using all available tools to dissuade Russia from continuing its airstrikes in Syria that are clearly not in our interest,” the senators wrote to Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryNew Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Lessons of the Kamala Harris campaign Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows to push for Paris climate goals | Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry at Energy | EPA under attack from all sides over ethanol rule MORE on Monday. “If launching such airstrikes from Iran violates a legally binding Security Council Resolution, then that point should be made clear and enforced.”

ADVERTISEMENT

In August, Russia began using an airbase near the city of Hamadan in Iran to launch airstrikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The move was the first time in its year-old air campaign that Moscow used a base outside of Russia or Syria and was the first time a foreign power used an Iranian airbase since World War II. It was also widely seen as sending a message to Washington.

Officials from Russia and Iran said the base was just used for refueling. The ability to refuel and fly from Iran shortens the length of time Russian bombers need to fly into Syria.

A week later, Russia stopped using the base amid outrage from some in Iran who saw a foreign power’s use of their base as a breach of sovereignty. Still, officials from both countries left the door open to using the base again in the future.

At the time, the State Department said it was looking into whether using the base violated a Security Council resolution that bans the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran without prior approval by the Security Council.

In their letter, the senators ask Kerry for one of three things: proof that the Security Council approved the use of the Iranian base, an explanation of how using the base didn’t violate the resolution or an outline of steps to be taken to enforce the resolution.

The resolution was passed in July 2015 in support of the nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As such, enforcing the resolution is an important part of enforcing the nuclear deal, the senators wrote.

“This is part of the arms embargo you and President Obama said would remain in place for five years after JCPOA Adoption Day,” they wrote. “The Obama administration promised vigorous enforcement of the JCPOA regime in general—of which U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 is clearly a part—and the arms embargo specifically.”

Enforcement is also important to prevent Russia from using the airbase again in the future, the senators said.

“Even if the current round of Russian airstrikes from an Iranian air base has come to a halt, we have no reason to believe they would not happen again, especially if there are no consequences for Russia’s prior use of Iranian territory from which to launch attacks in Syria,” they wrote.

The letter was led by Republican Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump announces restart to Taliban peace talks in surprise Afghanistan visit Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (Wyo.) and also by Republican Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (Mo.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides MORE (Ark.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoCongress braces for chaotic December The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Trump calls into 'Fox & Friends,' talks impeachment MORE (W.V.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Collins opposes Trump's district court pick MORE (Maine), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators urge FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Enhancing protections for sensitive information in congressional investigations MORE (Ark.), John CornynJohn CornynPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week MORE (Texas), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSanders meets with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Cruz knocks Chick-fil-A over past donation: It has 'lost its way' Overnight Energy: Relocated BLM staff face salary cuts | UN report calls for drastic action on climate change | California asks EPA to reconsider emissions rule MORE (Texas), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Budget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (Wyo.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators urge FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing MORE (Colo.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (Nev.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Congress braces for chaotic December The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' MORE (Okla.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler plans to spend million on Georgia Senate campaign Georgia governor bucks Trump with Senate seat appointment Lawmakers to watch during Wednesday's impeachment hearing MORE (Ga.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases MORE (Wis.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR Bottom Line MORE (Ill.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (Ky.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenators inch forward on federal privacy bill Hillicon Valley: Dueling bills set stage for privacy debate | Google co-founders step down from parent company | Advocates rally for self-driving car bill | Elon Musk defamation trial begins | Lawsuit accuses TikTok of sharing data with China Advocates hopeful dueling privacy bills can bridge partisan divide MORE (Kan.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem impeachment report highlights phone records Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Alaska), David Perdue (Ga.), James Risch (Idaho), Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Morning Report - Intel panel readies to hand off impeachment baton The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' The Hill's Morning Report — House set for Phase 3 of impeachment push MORE (Kan.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio on Chris Pratt water bottle story: 'I too was caught with a single use plastic water bottle' House votes to sanction Chinese officials over treatment of Uighurs Poll: 51 percent of Florida voters disapprove of Trump MORE (Fla.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill House passes anti-robocall bill MORE (S.D.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNC rep explores Tillis primary challenge Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Tillis challenger dropping GOP primary bid in North Carolina MORE (N.C.), David VitterDavid Bruce VitterRed-state governor races put both parties on edge Louisiana Republicans score big legislative wins Trump calls on Republicans to vote out Democratic Louisiana governor amid GOP infighting MORE (La.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill Hillicon Valley: Dueling bills set stage for privacy debate | Google co-founders step down from parent company | Advocates rally for self-driving car bill | Elon Musk defamation trial begins | Lawsuit accuses TikTok of sharing data with China MORE (Miss.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteGOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs Trump makes rare trip to Clinton state, hoping to win back New Hampshire Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (N.H.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (Utah), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the 'Rainbow Jihad' MORE (Ala.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).