End of embargo opens Iran to arms market but with obstacles

By Marina Villén

Tehran, Oct 17 (efe-epa).- Iran will be able to buy and sell arms from Sunday thanks to the end of an international embargo, which the United States unsuccessfully tried to extend.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the country for the lifting of the “oppressive embargo”, which was imposed in 2007 by the United Nations Security Council.

Washington opposed the end of the restrictions, saying it was dangerous for Iran to acquire weapons or sell them to its allies in the Middle East.

Pressure from the US did not bear fruit and 13 of the 15 members of the Security Council on 14 August rejected the proposal that the embargo be extended indefinitely.

“The Americans, both in the economic embargo and in the arms embargo on Iran, will face failure in a determined manner,” Iranian military commander Yahya Rahim Safavi told Efe.

Iran has had to develop its weapons sector internally since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 as it has been subject to sanctions or embargo from that time.

Iran’s armed forces want and need to modernize with external support and although they have not yet announced which countries they will begin to trade with, everything points to their traditional allies.

“Iran can meet its strategic needs through the countries it interacts with, such as Russia and China, although it is self-sufficient in many cases and is an (arms) exporter in itself,” Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last month.

Moscow has shown it is open to military cooperation with Iran after the end of the embargo but has not specified possible arrangements.

The US government announced sanctions against the Iranian defense ministry on 21 September and threatened penalties against any nation that breaches it.

These combined with economic sanctions will mean many companies in the sector will not want to risk being punished by Washington.

Iran is also facing a serious economic crisis which will make it difficult to spend any funds on arms which means it could turn to exporting weapons initially.

Iranian defense minister Amir Hatami said the country is one of the few that can locally manufacture more than 90 percent of its military needs and that it specializes in missiles, a source of concern for Washington.

“We will surely be able to export more military equipment than we need to import… We will use our legal right to sell weapons to trade with our allies,” he said.

This is an option that especially worries the US because of its military presence in the region, which has already been challenged by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, where rocket attacks have been frequent in the last year.

Other groups supported by Tehran, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas and the Hutus in Yemen, also pose a threat to Washington’s regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Safavi warned that “no stable security will be formed in the West Asian region without the presence of Iran”.

The departure of US troops from the region has been Iran’s aim since a series of security incidents in the Persian Gulf in 2019 and Washington killing powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleiman in a bombing in Baghdad. EFE-EPA


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