“The current normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
The United Nations banned Iran from purchasing major foreign weapons systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program. An earlier embargo targeted Iran’s arms exports.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in 2019 that if the embargo ended, Iran would likely try to buy Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran may also try to purchase Russia̵7;s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said. China may sell Iranian weapons.
Iran has long been matched by US-backed countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have bought billions of dollars of advanced American weapons. In response, Tehran turned towards the development of locally made ballistic missiles.
Iran has exploded Gulf Arab purchases of US-made defense equipment as a “consequence of useful arms dealings” with some of the weapons used in the ongoing war in Yemen. That conflict is disputed by a Saudi-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized government against Iranian-backed rebel forces.
However, UN arms embargoes did not stop Iran from sending weapons from assault rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemeni rebels Houthi. As Tehran refuses to arm the Houthis, Western governments and weapons experts have repeatedly linked Iranian weapons to the rebels.
Six Gulf Arab countries that have supported the expansion of arms embargoes have identified arms shipments to Yemen in their opposition to the resumption of any arms sales to Iran. They also mentioned in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iran had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January and that its navy had accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike while training. The UN has also linked Iran to a 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil, although Tehran has denied any links and Yemeni rebel Houthis has claimed responsibility.
Sunday also marked the end of UN travel bans on a number of Iranian military members and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Tensions between Iran and the US escalated to high fever earlier this year, when an American drone killed an Iranian top general in Baghdad. Tehran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq wounded by dozens. Meanwhile, Iran continues to violate the limits of the nuclear deal in an attempt to pressure Europe to salvage the agreement.
In recent months, rivalries on both sides have slowed as President Donald Trump has faced a re-election campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden said he was willing to offer Iran “a credible path back to diplomacy” if Tehran returns to “strict compliance” with the agreement.