TEHRAN (Dispatches) — A decade-long UN arms embargo on Iran that barred it from purchasing foreign weapons like tanks and fighter jets expired Sunday as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers, despite objections from the United States.
"As of today, all restrictions on the transfer of arms, related activities and financial services to and from the Islamic Republic of Iran... are all automatically terminated,” Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
While insisting it planned no "buying spree,” Iran in theory can purchase weapons to upgrade military armament dating back to before its 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its own locally produced gear abroad.
"As of today, the Islamic Republic may procure any necessary arms and equipment from any source without any legal restrictions, and solely based on its defensive needs,” the ministry added in the statement sent out on Twitter.
The Islamic Republic heralded the end of the arms embargo as "a momentous day for the international community... in defiance of the U.S. regime’s effort.”
"Today’s normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations also hailed the end of a "baseless, unjust, and unlawful” arms embargo against the Islamic Republic.
The United Nations banned Iran from buying major foreign weapon systems in 2010. An earlier embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency predicted in 2019 that if the embargo ended, Iran likely would try to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, Yak-130 trainer aircraft and T-90 tanks. Tehran also may try to buy Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system, the DIA said.
Moscow said in September that it was ready to boost its military cooperation with Tehran, while Beijing has also spoken of its willingness to sell arms to Iran after October 18.
Iran long has been outmatched by U.S.-backed Persian Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have purchased billions of dollars of advanced American weaponry. In response, Tehran turned toward developing locally made ballistic missiles.
Iran has blasted Persian Gulf Arab purchases of U.S.-made military equipment as "regrettably lucrative weapon deals” with some of those arms used in the ongoing war in Yemen.
Sunday also marked the end of UN travel bans on a number of Iranian military and the IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) members.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. reached fever pitch at the start of the year, when an American drone assassinated a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran retaliated with a ballistic missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq that injured more than 110 troops.
Iran said Sunday it was self-reliant in its defense and had no need to go on a weapons buying spree.
"Iran’s defense doctrine is premised on strong reliance on its people and indigenous capabilities ... Unconventional arms, weapons of mass destruction and a buying spree of conventional arms have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.
Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons.
In January, the Islamic Republic retaliated to the U.S. terrorist act with a volley of precision-guided missiles which it has manufactured indigenously.