TEHRAN, Iran (AP) A 10-year UN arms embargo on Iran that barred it from buying foreign weapons such as tanks and fighter jets expired Sunday as planned in its nuclear deal with world powers, despite opposition from the United States. .
While insisting that it had no plans to buy, “Iran could theoretically buy weapons to upgrade its military equipment dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its domestically produced equipment abroad. In practice, however, the economy of Iran remains crippled by extensive US sanctions and other nations may avoid arms deals with Tehran for fear of US financial retaliation.
The Islamic Republic announced the end of the arms embargo as an important day for the international community… contrary to the efforts of the American regimes. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has insisted that it has re-invoked all UN sanctions on Iran through a clause in the nuclear deal from which it withdrew in 2018, a claim ignored by the rest of the world.
“Today’s normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a victory 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 buying large foreign weapons systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program. An early embargo targeted Iranian 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 training aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran may also try to buy Russias S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said. China may also sell arms to Iran.
Iran has long been compared to US-backed Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have bought billions of dollars in advanced American weapons. In response, Tehran turned to the development of home-made ballistic missiles.
Iran has blown up Gulf Arab purchases of US-made defense equipment as a sadly lucrative deal with some of those weapons used in the ongoing war in Yemen. This conflict constitutes a Saudi-led coalition that supports the country’s internationally recognized government against Iranian-backed rebel forces.
The UN arms embargo, however, did not stop Iran from sending weapons ranging from assault rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. As Tehran denies arming Houthis, Western governments and weapons experts have repeatedly linked Iranian weapons to rebels.
Six Gulf Arab nations that supported the extension of arms embargoes noted arms shipments to Yemen in their opposition to resuming any arms sales to 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 during a drill. The UN also linked Iran to a 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil refinery, though Tehran denies any connection and Yemen’s rebel Houthis claimed responsibility.
Sunday also marked the end of UN travel bans for a number of members of the Iranian Military Revolutionary and Paramilitary Guard.
Tensions between Iran and the US reached a temperature earlier this year when a US drone killed a senior Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq that wounded dozens. Meanwhile, Iran has repeatedly broken the boundaries of the nuclear deal in an effort to put pressure on Europe to salvage the deal.
In recent months, provocations from both sides have slowed as President Donald Trump faces a re-election campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has said he is ready to offer Iran a credible path to diplomacy if Tehran returns in full compliance with the agreement.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, UAE, contributed to this report.
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