TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A decade-long embargo of UN weapons to Iran banning the purchase of foreign weapons such as fighter tanks and jets expired on Sunday planned under negotiation its nuclear to world powers, despite opposition from the United States.
While forcing a plan without “buying pleasure,” Iran’s theory could buy weapons to upgrade military weapons dating back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its own locally made equipment abroad. In practice, however, Iran’s economy remains crippled by widespread sanctions on the US, and other countries may avoid arms dealings with Tehran for fear of retaliation against American finance.
The Islamic Republic has announced the end of the arms embargo as “a crucial day for the international community … in protest of the US regime̵7;s efforts.” In the meantime, the Trump administration insists it has re-called all UN sanctions on Iran through a nuclear deal clause it withdrew in 2018, a statement ignored by the rest of the world.
“Today’s 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 fighter jets of Russian Su-30, Yak-130 trainer aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran may also try to purchase Russia’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 have supported the expansion of arms embargoes mentioned sending weapons to Yemen in their opposition to the resumption of any arms sales in Iran. They also mentioned in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January and its navy accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike in an exercise. The UN also linked Iran to an attack in 2019 on Saudi Arabia’s primary crude refining, even though 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.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.