Press TV – US Senator Rand Paul has warned the administration of Donald Trump against imposing new economic sanctions on Iran, saying “new sanctions are a fool’s errand, and they will not work.”
Paul, a former Republican presidential candidate, made the remarks in article, titled “Think twice before sanctioning Iran,” published on Friday.
Last month, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of legislation that would authorize Trump to impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile program, which Tehran has repeatedly said is defensive.
The bill needs the approval of the Senate, the House of Representatives and President Trump to become law.
According to reports published on Monday, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was pushing the Senate toward passing tougher sanctions against Iran.
Senator Paul urged the US government not to impose sanctions on Iran on the pretext of ballistic missile program, which Iran says is defensive.
He wrote that it is not fair to punish Iran when the Islamic Republic’s all hostile neighbors like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel have advanced missile programs.
“As we look at the ballistic missile section, we recall that Saudi Arabia also has ballistic missiles, the Dong Feng-3s and -21s. Where are they pointed? Tel Aviv and Tehran,” he wrote.
“Our CIA inspected the DF-21s and said they are not currently nuclear capable. But are they convertible? Are they nuclear capable? Yeah, they are nuclear capable, and they are pointed at Israel and Iran,” he added.
Senator Paul called on the United States to curb Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile program and Israel’s nuclear weapons program in order control arms proliferation in the Middle East region, otherwise “these sanctions [against Iran] will have [no] effect.”
“If the whole world invoked these sanctions, they might be effective…But I do not think these unilateral sanctions will have any effect,” Paul wrote.
“If you really want to get rid of their ballistic-missile program, we should look at who else in the region they perceive as a threat. I do not think they really perceive us as a threat. We have thousands of ballistic missiles, yes, but I think they are primarily concerned with Saudi Arabia and the other [Persian] Gulf sheikhdoms, who already have hundreds of missiles. They also see Israel’s nuclear weapons as a threat,” he noted.
“So, if you wanted to influence the behavior of Iran, you might consider sanctioning Saudi Arabia in equal fashion,” he said.
“Another way of doing it would be to withhold the $350 billion worth of new weapons and missiles to Saudi Arabia until both sides come together to discuss an arms control treaty. Perhaps you could say we are going to withhold that offer until Saudi Arabia agrees to negotiate with Iran,” he argued.
“It is my belief that Iran will never quit developing ballistic missiles unless there is an agreement with Saudi Arabia and/or the rest of the [Persian] Gulf kingdoms to do the same. And so I think new sanctions are a fool’s errand, and they will not work,” the senator observed.
Last month, the United States and Saudi Arabia reached a massive weapons sale agreement.
The $110 billion arms deal signed by Saudi Arabian King Salman and US President Donald Trump was a component of $350 billion in economic and military investments between the two countries over the next 10 years, according to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The Trump administration has come under fire from human rights advocacy groups for striking the weapons deal with Saudi Arabia without considering the Riyadh regime’s rights record.
Experts say Trump’s selection of Saudi Arabia as his maiden overseas trip signals that he is willing to embrace a country responsible for widespread human rights violations and an escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
The Saudi kingdom has been bombing Yemen for over two years and killing thousands of civilians there, while accusing Tehran of intervention in the impoverished country.