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Oct 18, 2020
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“Not in Washington’s interests”: what prospects opens up for Iran by lifting the arms embargo

Sanctions on the export and import of weapons, with the exception of missile technology, have ceased to apply to Iran. The lifting of the so-called arms embargo is regulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20, 2015. The United States remains a tough opponent of the abolition of restrictions. After the breakdown of the nuclear deal with Tehran, Washington unsuccessfully tried several times to get the embargo extended. Experts believe that the United States fears the strengthening of Iran due to the emerging opportunities for military-technical cooperation with Russia and China.

The so-called arms embargo against Iran expired on October 18. Its termination is regulated by the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), concluded on July 14, 2015 by six countries (USA, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and Germany), aimed at lifting sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the Islamic republic's refusal to develop nuclear weapons.

The provisions of the nuclear deal were supported by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015. It provides for the gradual elimination of restrictive measures against Iran, and the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA does not affect this process.

"Trump is not happy with any agreement"

Restrictions on Iranian arms exports and imports are fixed in resolutions 1747 (2007) and 1929 (2010) of the UN Security Council. The Islamic Republic was prohibited from buying heavy offensive weapons and military equipment, with the exception of air defense systems. Also, Tehran was deprived of the right to export its own military products.

As previously reminded in the Russian Foreign Ministry, the sanctions against Tehran did not imply a total ban on the sale or transfer of weapons. Iran could acquire weapons, having received the consent of the UN Security Council.

"The term" arms embargo "was not used in UN Security Council Resolution 2231. For a certain period, a permissive procedure for the relevant supplies was introduced ... The purpose of isolating Iran, putting pressure on it, depriving it of its legal rights to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and was never put on self-defense." , - explained in the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Now all contracts in the area of ​​military-technical cooperation (MTC) Tehran can conclude independently. The embargo applies only to samples of rocketry. It expires in 2023.

  • Nuclear reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant
  • AFP
  • © BEHROUZ MEHRI

The arms embargo was imposed due to the refusal of the Islamic republic to fulfill its obligations to the IAEA, an international agency that monitors nuclear facilities.

According to experts, the conclusion of the JCPOA made it possible to remove a lot of contradictions between Tehran and the leading world powers that arose because of the republic's nuclear missile program.

According to the UN, before the breakdown of the deal by the United States, Iran was consistently fulfilling its obligations to reduce its reserves of low-enriched uranium. In particular, specialists from the Islamic Republic reduced the number of centrifuges at the Fordow and Nathans facilities, and also dismantled the core of the nuclear reactor in Arak, where plutonium intended for military purposes could potentially be produced.

However, after the US withdrew from the JCPOA and a round of unilateral sanctions pressure from Washington, Tehran refused to comply with a number of provisions, including restrictions on uranium enrichment.

Recall that the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 under the pretext of alleged violations by Tehran. Withdrawal from the JCPOA allowed Washington to restore the anti-Iranian sanctions it had canceled earlier.

Moreover, the head of the White House Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Iran, insisting that the Islamic Republic should not threaten "freedom of navigation" in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and demanding an end to support for "terrorists", organizing cyberattacks on the United States and its allies, and also the development of ballistic missiles.

According to experts, Trump's claims were far-fetched and were dictated by the desire to revise the foreign policy of his predecessor Barack Obama, who considered the conclusion of the JCPOA one of his main achievements.

“Trump is not happy with any of the agreements that Obama signed, although the United States has spent a tremendous amount of time and effort to close the deal with Iran. Trump claims that Tehran benefits from this agreement because it is not tough enough, "Vadim Kozyulin, a researcher at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and PIR Center program director, said in an interview with RT.

Washington did not hide its negative attitude towards the expiration of the arms embargo, which, from the point of view of the United States, should have an indefinite character. Several times, the United States submitted to the UN Security Council a resolution on the extension of military-technical restrictions on Iran, but each time the document did not gain the required number of votes.

On September 21, Trump unilaterally restored all restrictions on Iranian arms exports and imports and threatened to impose sanctions on individuals and entities that violate the rules in force before the conclusion of the JCPOA. Also, the head of the White House expanded restrictions on the Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Republic and a number of Iranian companies.

"This is not in Washington's interests"

Trump justifies his actions on the military threats that come from Iran and the arms race in the Middle East. The Russian Foreign Ministry calls such statements "unsubstantiated" and regularly reminds Washington of the multi-billion dollar supplies of American weapons to the countries of the region.

In an interview with RT, the director of the Bureau of Political-Military Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, said that the United States fears the strengthening of Iran as one of the anti-American poles of power in the Middle East. In addition, Washington expects to prevent the revival of military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

“Despite the sanctions, Iran was able to create a sufficiently strong army by the standards of the region, possessing a wide range of its own weapons. Of course, Iran does not have everything, but Russia can help with new technologies and more modern weapons. And this is not in the interests of Washington, which seeks to have a hypothetical opportunity to implement a kind of blitzkrieg scenario against Iran, "Mikhailov explained.

  • Iranian ballistic missile launch
  • © Mahmoud Hosseini

The expert recalled that before the introduction of international sanctions, Russia was one of the main foreign arms suppliers to Iran.

The intensification of military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Tehran began only in the late 1980s. In November 1989, the Russian Federation and Iran signed a contract for the supply of 24 MiG-29 fighters, 12 Su-24MK fighters, two surface-to-air missile systems (ZRS) S-200VE and Vega-E for $ 1.3 billion.

In May 1990, the two states signed an agreement to sell Project 877 EKM diesel-electric submarines. In November 1991, Tehran agreed with Moscow to transfer a license for the production of 1,000 T-72S tanks and 1,500 BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, as well as ammunition for them for a total of $ 2.2 billion.

The dynamic development of bilateral cooperation in military-technical cooperation aroused irritation overseas. As a result, Washington managed to persuade Moscow not to conclude new contracts with the Islamic republic, which resulted in the signing of the Gore-Chernomyrdin protocol in June 1995. As part of this document, Russia pledged to complete the implementation of all agreements on the supply of weapons previously concluded with Iran by December 31, 1999 and not to sign new ones.

Experts are convinced that in the future, Tehran will be ready to purchase a wide range of domestic military equipment. Back in 2016, according to Russian media, Iran expressed a desire to purchase military products from Russia for at least $ 8 billion.

This list includes the Su-30SM multifunctional fighters, Yak-130 combat training aircraft, Mi-8/17 helicopters, Bastion coastal mobile missile systems, T-90 tanks, S-400 complexes and frigates.

“Iran would like to arm itself primarily to protect its own territory. I think that Russia is ready to supply Iran with defense systems. The US claims that after the embargo is lifted Tehran will certainly pursue an aggressive offensive policy are far from reality, ”Kozyulin said.

The sanctions pressure from the United States only serves as a stimulus for the future development of Tehran's military-technical cooperation with foreign states, Alexander Mikhailov said.

In addition to the Russian Federation, as the expert predicts, China will become another arms importer to Iran.

“The United States itself freed Tehran's hands by withdrawing from the nuclear agreement, which was the guarantor of the peaceful resolution of contradictions. Now Iran is forced to arm itself to protect military and civilian facilities. And on this path he will take advantage of the opportunities that Russia and China will provide him with, ”Mikhailov said.

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