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Arms embargo on Iran expires despite US opposition | Middle East




Tehran, Iran Despite US opposition, a long-standing conventional arms embargo on Iran expired under the terms of a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Iranian ministry says Foreign Affairs.

The 13-year ban imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ended on Sunday as part of Resolution 2231 of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement signed in 2015 that granted relief from sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

In a statement released by state media, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said that from today all restrictions on the transfer of arms, related activities and financial services to and from the Islamic Republic of Iran are all automatically deleted.

The end of the embargo means that Iran will be legally able to buy and sell conventional weapons, including missiles, helicopters and tanks, and Iran’s foreign ministry has said the country can now procure the necessary weapons and equipment from any source without any legal restriction, and solely on the basis of defensive needs.

However, Iran was self-sufficient in its defense, the statement said, adding that unconventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction and a frenzy of buying conventional weapons have no place in the country’s defense doctrine. .

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, imposing waves of severe economic sanctions on Iran. The administration of US President Donald Trumps has also used all means in its power to dismantle the nuclear deal and stop the lifting of the arms embargo against Iran.

The most recent came in early October when 18 Iranian banks were blacklisted, including those that process humanitarian business transactions, effectively separating Iran’s financial sector from the global economy.

The US administration has been strongly supported in its efforts by Israel and a number of Arab countries that oppose Iran’s expansion of regional influence.

In August, the United States tabled a UNSC resolution to extend the arms embargo indefinitely, but it was rejected.

Of the 14 UNSC member states, the so-called E3 of France, Germany and the UK, and eight others abstained while Russia and China opposed the extension. Only the Dominican Republic supported the resolution.

After announcing the start of a process to cancel sanctions against Iran and waited a month, the United States announced in September that it had unilaterally reinstated all UN sanctions against Iran that had lifted under resolution 2231.

If implemented, this measure would also automatically extend the arms embargo.

But an overwhelming majority of UNSC member states once again rejected the candidacy, saying no process to reinstate sanctions had been launched because the movement had no legal basis.

The United States has threatened consequences for countries that do not buy into their claim but have yet to take action.

In attempting to indefinitely extend the arms embargo against Iran, the United States says lifting the embargo will open a wave of arms deals that would quickly serve to further destabilize the region.

EU embargoes on exports of conventional arms and missile technology are still in place and will remain in effect until 2023.

E3 foreign ministers issued a joint statement in July that while the three countries remain committed to fully implementing Resolution 2231, they believe lifting the arms embargo would have major security implications and regional stability.

Russia and China

In practice, it may take some time for Iran to be able to free itself from the embargo.

On the one hand, relentless US sanctions have severely limited Iran’s ability to purchase advanced systems, the purchase and maintenance of which could cost billions of dollars.

In addition, China and Russia, or any country considering selling arms to Iran, would act according to their foreign policy interests, which should take into account the balance of power and future economic interests in the future. Gulf and the wider region.

Iran and China are considering a major 25-year strategic partnership agreement, details of which have yet to be released.

Tong Zhao, a senior researcher at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, says the deal has already attracted international scrutiny, so China, which wants to show off the image of a responsible power, will exercise caution. .

More importantly, if [Joe] Biden is elected as the new US president, which increasingly seems likely that Beijing would want to restart US-China relations with a new US administration, he told Al Jazeera.

In that vein, Zhao said it would be unlikely that Beijing would jeopardize the opportunity to mend ties with a Biden administration by making huge arms deals with Tehran.

As for Russia, a 2019 report from the United States Defense Intelligence Agency specified that Iran would purchase Su-30 fighters, Yak-130 trainers, T-90 tanks, defense missile systems. Coastal Mobile Bastion and S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami visited Russia in late August to visit the Army-2020 International Military and Technical Forum and meet with senior Russian officials. The trip sparked speculation. Iran is interested in Russian weapons.

However, Nicole Grajewski, a researcher in the international security program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, says there is no indication that Russia and Iran have finalized a list of potential weapons for negotiations.

It is not entirely unfounded to suggest that Russia and Iran could wait for the US presidential elections, she told Al Jazeera. Both sides have reasons not to upset Biden if he is elected: Iran with the JCPOA and Russia with the new START.

The new START is an arms reduction treaty and the last existing nuclear weapons control pact between Russia and the United States which expires in February. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called for a one-year extension of the pact.

Additionally, Grajewski pointed out that while the Trump administration has been inconsistent in implementing the provisions of the Fighting America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Russia will take into account US sanctions. , especially since Moscow would like to sell arms to states that might become subject to secondary US sanctions.

But she believes funding is the biggest obstacle to a possible major arms deal between Iran and Russia.

Russia will not be as willing as China to sell Iranian weapons by barter as it did in the 1990s, Grajewski said. Moreover, Russia does not want to harm its relations with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Israel by supplying Iran with high-tech or advanced weapons.

But the researcher believes Iran and Russia could benefit from enhanced military cooperation and contacts that have grown in recent years due to common interests in Syria and an overall improvement in bilateral relations.

There will likely be additional military exchanges and exercises in addition to increased efforts to promote interoperability between the Russian and Iranian armed forces at the tactical level, she said.

Iranian perspective

Following the implementation of the nuclear deal in 2016, Russia completed the delivery of the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran, which was successfully tested by Iran in early 2017.

This ultimately resulted in an $ 800 million deal signed between the two states in 2007, which was not honored by Russia after the multilateral sanctions pressure increased on Iran.

But by then, a lot had changed in Iran.

As Iranian defense expert Hossein Dalirian explains, after years of multilateral and unilateral sanctions, Iran has concluded that it needs to rely on the expertise of its own engineers and experts to strengthen its military capabilities. defense.

In this perspective, considerable efforts have been launched in Iran to develop a diverse range of advanced weapons and systems which are now produced locally, which are on par with those of developed countries, even as evidenced by military experts from the enemies of Iran, he told Al Jazeera. .

Among others, these include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the Bavar-373 surface-to-air missile defense system, which was officially deployed in August 2019 and which Iran says is in the pipeline. state of the art height. Russian system S-400.

However, said Dalirian, it has not been possible, nor economically feasible, for Iran to produce a number of weapons, including fifth generation fighter jets.

Even though Iranian experts have recently acquired technological know-how to produce parts of fighter jets and build Kowsar, which is on par with fourth generation fighter jets, it seems that the purchase of fighter jets could be pursued by Iran at the same time as local development. modern fighter jets, he said.

Dalirian says many countries have shown interest in Iranian weapons, but have not been able to purchase them due to the sanctions.

It now remains to be seen what the enemies of Iran, especially the United States, have planned for potential Iranian arms buyers in political terms, he said.

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