Arms embargo ends under Resolution 2231 of landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that granted sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program .
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, with President Donald Trump calling it “the worst deal ever” and has since imposed waves of harsh economic sanctions on Iran.
The United States and Israel have vehemently opposed ending the arms embargo and have repeatedly attempted to stop it.
US efforts to extend the arms embargo
In mid-August, the United States introduced a resolution to indefinitely extend the arms embargo, which was categorically rejected by the UNSC.
Only the Dominican Republic voted in favor of the resolution, while 11 members of the 15 members, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, known together as E3, abstained. Russia and China opposed the extension.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the decision by UNSC members “inexcusable” and said: “Iran will spread more chaos and destruction if the embargo expires.”
In September, the United States unilaterally announced that it had reinstated all UN sanctions against Iran that had been lifted under the nuclear deal, a move that would automatically extend the arms embargo. .
Once again, the overwhelming majority of UNSC members rejected the offer, saying it had no legal basis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told the council he would take no action on the US statement.
Pompeo threatened that the United States “is prepared to use our national authorities to impose consequences” on UN member states that do not respect their sanctions.
Following the rejection, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Today will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy,” and praised world powers for opposing US unilateralism.
He warned that Iran would have a “decisive response” if the United States attempts to “force” other nations to adhere to its reinstatement of US sanctions.
Last week, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference in Tehran that the arms embargo would end on October 18, despite US efforts to block it.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has shown once again that the United States is not so much a superpower as it likes to say it,” he said, adding that ending the arms embargo marks a “historic defeat” for the United States.
What happens next?
It remains to be seen how the other signatories to the nuclear deal, including E3, Russia and China, will react to the lifting of the arms embargo against Iran.
In a joint statement in July, the E3 foreign ministers wrote that if the three countries remain committed to fully implementing resolution 2231 of the nuclear deal, they believe lifting the arms embargo “would have serious consequences. major implications for regional security and stability ”.
“We recall that the EU’s embargoes on exports of conventional arms and missile technology will remain in force until 2023,” they said.
Russia and China, on the other hand, would face no legal hurdles in selling conventional weapons to Iran if they so wished.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in a 2019 report that Iran would try to buy Russian fighter jets, trainers and tanks, among other weapons.
Over the past decade, Iran has made progress in accelerating its local production of conventional weapons and its defensive capabilities against multilateral sanctions.
Authorities have said Iran will be ready to sell arms when the embargo ends.
In late August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said it would be a “good idea” to consider buying missiles from Iran after his Colombian rival said Maduro was considering the plan.