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The UN arms embargo on Iran expires despite US opposition

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In practice, however, Iran’s economy remains plagued by extensive US sanctions, and other nations may avoid arms deals with Tehran for fear of US financial retaliation. The Trump administration has warned that any arms sales to Iran or exports from Iran will be penalized.

The Islamic Republic announced the end of the arms embargo as an important day for the international community … contrary to the efforts of the US regimes. The Trump administration, meanwhile, says the expiration is controversial since it re-imposed all UN sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, through a clause in the nuclear deal Trump withdrew from 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.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo categorically refused the expiration.

The United States is prepared to use its domestic authority to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale or transfer of conventional weapons from or to Iran, as well as those providing technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these weapons, he said in a statement.

For the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling weapons to Iran under various UN measures, Pompeo said. Any country that now challenges this ban will choose very clearly to foment conflict and tension over the promotion of peace and security.

UN Deputy Ambassador to Russia Dmitry Polyansky responded to Pompeo with a tweet urging the US to help bring peace to the Middle East without provoking Iran. And please change the words sanctions and punishments in your vocabulary to dialogue and engagement. That would help a lot! Make the US respected again !, he added.

The expiration of the arms embargo on Sundays was, in fact, the approximate cause of the U.S. decision last month to move forward with the so-called reversal of international sanctions on Iran. The Americans tried unsuccessfully for the UN Security Council to extend the embargo, but suffered a humiliating defeat when only one seat on the 15-member panel backed it.

In response, the administration announced that it had called for a mechanism envisaged in the Security Council resolution that enacted the nuclear deal that allows any party to the agreement to reinstate UN sanctions if they determine that Iran is not in compliance with its terms. The rest of the council, however, rejected the U.S. stance to cause a speedy return, saying it had lost its right to do so when Trump withdrew the deal.

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 internationally recognized government of the countries against the Iranian-backed rebel forces.

The UN arms embargo, however, did not stop Iran from sending weapons ranging from rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemeni 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 of its 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 links and rebel Jouthis 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 writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, UAE and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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