A Revolutionary Guards general, No. 7 on the blacklist of 15 Iranians who are banned from traveling abroad by UN Security Council Resolution 1747, was welcomed by Russian authorities last week.
Gen. Muhammad Baqer Zolqadr, ex-deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards, was appointed deputy interior minister for security affairs in November. Well-known for his threats to bomb the Dimona nuclear facility, and to arrange "a bloodbath" and "a second Vietnam for Americans," he enjoyed Russian hospitality for six days, leaving unhindered on Monday.
Teheran is using the visit to show that UN sanctions are ineffective. In an interview with Iranian state television, Zolqadr bragged about his journey and mocked the Security Council resolution, which calls on all governments "to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals who are engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran's proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems."
Zolqadr said he came to Russia at the invitation of the Federal Border Guards and the Emergencies Ministry, and that he had received an exceptionally warm welcome from Russian officials.
The official reason for the visit was "debates on border control issues at the watery border between Russia and Iran on the Caspian Sea" and discussion with Emergencies Ministry officials of "relief for natural disasters such as earthquakes."
But some Russian opposition sources say the expert on Iranian defense systems came to discuss quite different issues that have nothing to do with fighting drug traffic on the Caspian littoral.
Officials in Moscow tried to keep the visit under wraps, but the Iranians exposed their violation of the Security Council Resolution. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov had no choice but to confirm the Zolqadr visit. He claimed the resolution did not prohibit visits by the blacklisted Iranians, but only called for "heightened vigilance."
The Foreign Ministry's formal statement also said that no violation had occurred because it had followed the resolution's requirement to inform the UN of the visit.
The Russian daily Kommersant reminded readers that during the debate on the resolution in the Security Council, Moscow and Beijing insisted that "harsh sanctions against senior members of the Revolutionary Guards of the Islamic republic would have no effect on efforts to frustrate Iran's quest for its own piece of the nuclear pie."
In light of such statements, some analysts anticipate the arrival of other blacklisted Iranians in Russia. Moscow's potential guests include:
Key Revolutionary Guards personnel: Brig.-Gen. Morteza Rezaie, deputy commander; Vice-Adm. Ali Ahmadian, chief of its Joint Staff; Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Zahedi, commander of its ground forces; Rear-Adm. Morteza Safari, commander of its navy; Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Hejazi, commander of the para-military Bassij resistance force; Brig.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force, an elite Guards unit that carries out special operations outside Iran; and, of course, Gen. Baqer Zolqadr, deputy interior minister for security affairs.
Persons involved in nuclear or ballistic missile activities:
Mohsen Fakrizadeh-Mahabadi, a senior scientist at Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics organization and former head of the Physics Research Center. The UN nuclear monitoring agency asked to interview him about Physics Research Center activities but Teheran refused.
Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, a senior Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics scientist with links to the Institute of Applied Physics who works closely with Fakhrizadeh.
Seyed Jaber Safdari, manager of the Natanz [uranium] Enrichment Facilities.
Amir Rahimi, head of the Esfahan Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center.
Mohsen Hojati, head of the Fajr Industrial Group, already targeted for travel and financial sanctions for its role in the missile program.
Mehrdada Ketabachi, head of Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group, also targeted for sanctions for its role in the ballistic missile program.
Naser Maleki, head of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. He is a Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics organization official who supervises work on the Shahab-3 missile.
Ahmad Derakhandeh, chairman of Bank Sepah.