“Today’s normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a victory for the cause of multilateralism, peace and security in our region,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
The United Nations banned Iran from purchasing major foreign weapon systems in 2010 due to tensions over its nuclear program. A previous embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.
The US defense intelligence agency predicted in 2019 that if the embargo was lifted, Iran would likely attempt to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft, and T-90 tanks. . Tehran could also try to purchase the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said. China could also sell arms to Iran.
Iran has long been overtaken by US-backed Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have bought billions of dollars worth of advanced American weapons. In response, Tehran turned to the development of locally manufactured ballistic missiles.
Iran has condemned Arab Gulf purchases of US-made defense equipment as “sadly lucrative arms deals”
The UN arms embargo, however, hasn’t stopped Iran from sending weapons ranging from assault rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. While Tehran denies having armed the Houthis, Western governments and weapons experts have repeatedly linked Iranian weapons to the rebels.
Six Gulf Arab nations that supported the extension of the arms embargo noted 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 mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January and its navy accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike during a drill. The United Nations has also linked Iran to a 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil refinery, although Tehran denies any links and Yemen’s rebel Houthis have claimed responsibility.
Sunday also marked the end of United Nations travel bans for a number of Iranian military and paramilitary members of the Revolutionary Guard.
Tensions between Iran and the United States peaked earlier this year when a US drone killed a senior Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran reacted with a ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq that injured dozens. Meanwhile, Iran has consistently breached the boundaries of the nuclear deal in an effort to pressure Europe to save 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 said he is willing to offer Iran “a credible path back to diplomacy” if Tehran returns to “strict compliance” with the agreement.