“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 has banned Iran from buying large foreign weapons systems in 2010 amid tensions over its nuclear program. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency predicts in 2019 that if the embargo ends, Iran will probably try to buy Russian Su-30 fighters, a Yak-130 training aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran could also try to buy Russia̵
Iran has long surpassed US-backed Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have bought billions of dollars in modern American weapons. In response, Tehran has focused on developing local ballistic missiles.
Iran is attacking purchases of US-made Arab equipment in the Arabian Gulf as “unfortunately lucrative arms deals” with some of the weapons used in the ongoing war in Yemen. The conflict is opposed by a Saudi-led coalition backing the country’s internationally recognized government against Iran-backed rebel forces.
However, the UN arms embargo has not prevented Iran from sending weapons, ranging from assault rifles to ballistic missiles, to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. While Tehran denies arming the Husseins, Western governments and weapons experts have repeatedly linked Iranian weapons to insurgents.
Six Gulf Arab states that supported the expansion of the arms embargo noted arms deliveries to Yemen in their objection to the resumption of arms sales to Iran. They also mentioned in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iran had mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January and that its fleet had accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise. The UN has also linked Iran to a 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s main crude oil refinery, although Tehran denies any links and Yemeni Hussein rebels have claimed responsibility.
Sunday also marked the end of UN travel bans on a number of Iranian military and paramilitary members of the Revolutionary Guard.
Tensions between Iran and the United States reached high temperatures earlier this year when a US drone killed Iran’s top general in Baghdad. Tehran has responded with a ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq, injuring dozens. Iran, meanwhile, is constantly violating the boundaries of the nuclear deal in a bid to pressure Europe to save the deal.
Provocations from both sides have slowed in recent months as President Donald Trump faces a re-election campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden said he was ready to offer Iran a “reliable way back to diplomacy” if Tehran returned to “strict compliance” with the deal.