As the arms embargo on Iran expired on October 17 according to the UN resolution 2231, Tehran can now enter the global weapons market and purchase and sell, despite the White House push to reinstate the sanctions. The development is a great victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran from various angles.
What arms can Iran sell or buy?
According to article 5 of Annex B of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, Iran can sell or purchase arms in the following areas:
“Supply, sale or transfer directly or indirectly from or through their territories, or by their nationals or individuals subject to their jurisdiction, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, to Iran, or for the use in or benefit of Iran, of any battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, or related materiel, including spare parts, and the provision to Iran by their nationals or from or through their territories of technical training, financial resources or services, advice, other services or assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, manufacture, maintenance, or use of arms and related material described in this subparagraph.”
Certainly, the end of the UN arms sanctions on Iran will enable Iran to address its military needs. But Iran is looking at the issue from another angle: It wants the end of the embargo as a chance to offer its massive military potentials and capabilities to the global markets so that it can tackle the impacts of the unilateral US sanctions on its economy. The Iranian weapons systems are cheap and reliable and such allied countries as Iraq, Venezuela, Lebanon, and Syria can be the top purchasers of them.
What weapons does Iran need?
The US sanctions against Iran have delivered the reverse: Iran has made triumphant Iranian advances in meeting a large part of the nation’s arms needs over the past decade.
After being targeted by the Stuxnet cyberspace worm on its nuclear enrichment facilities in 2010, Iran massively developed its cyber capabilities over the past decade. When it comes to the ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as combat and surveillance drones, Iran stands among the world heavyweights. The successful Yemeni Ansarullah Movement’s attacks on highly sensitive oil processing facilities of the Saudi oil giant Aramco, which are being guarded diligently by the Western-provided modern air defenses and also the missile strike on the Iraq-based US military base a week after the assassination of the top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, earlier this year portrayed the substantial missile capabilities of Tehran and came to the world surprising, according to the global observers. The observers also link the Iranian power to join the exclusive club of the countries capable of sending different types of satellites as a triumph associated with high military technology.
But Iran would be looking to procure cutting-edge military technologies to hone its military capabilities.
In recent years, one of the main areas of the focus of the Islamic Republic has been the enhancement of missile technology. Shooting down the US’s state-of-the-art the stealth Global Hawk drone by the domestically-built interceptor, officially named 3rd Khordad, proved to the world that the Iranians managed to create a network of powerful air defense systems. Earlier, Iran had procured Russian-made S-300 systems, and additionally developed its own long-range missile system Bavar-373, outacting the Russian system. Naturally, this network need new technologies injected into it, as the country did to the Russian Kasta and Nebo SV radar systems.
The main priority for Iran is to produce and improve military equipment at home. Douglas Barry, an analyst at the International Center for Applied Studies, says that the limited military budget of Iran pushed the country to shore up its defense industries by developing drones, guided missiles, and fast boats. Michael Clarke, of the Royal United Service Institute, says that instead of buying a lot of weapons Iran will focus on buying highly advanced weapons with utmost and effective capabilities. He continues that Iran would want the acquisition of early warning aircraft to address possible air attacks on its territory. It also buys AWACS aircraft and satellite detection services and also would improve its cyber capabilities.
Concerning the possible weapons Iran is setting its eyes on, Henry Boyd, of International Center for Applied Studies, says that having in mind that the enemies of Iran, namely the Persian Gulf Arab governments, Tel Aviv, and Washington, may carry out anti-Iranian airstrikes, Tehran would want to sharpen its air defense potentials.
Russia announced that it is ready to supply Iran with defense systems and Iran may want to procure S-400 long-range interception systems. If this system is too expensive for Iran, Tehran may resort to a Chinese rival as an appropriate replacement: FD-2000.
Sirous Amerian, a visiting professor at the Center for Defense and Security Studies of the Massy University of New Zealand, believes that Iran is interested in fighter jets, logistics aircraft, and helicopters. He points to the SU-30SM and JF-17, developed by China and Pakistan, as the possible jets of choice for Iran. He said that the second fighter jet is more likely to be bought by Iran as it is about $10 million cheaper with easier maintenance. It also uses the Klimov RD-33 turbofan jet engine with which Iran has an experience of work in its MiG-29AS fleet.
Michael Eisenstadt, the director of the Security and Defense Studies Program at the Washington-based Near East Institute, believes that in the first place Iran seeks more advanced guidance and propelling technologies for its drones, and ballistic and cruise missiles. It also needs radar-guided air-to-air missiles like the Russian R-77-1 or Chinese PL-15, and has expressed interest in Russia’s T90 tanks.
Iran arms embargo end serves regional stability
Definitely, the US would seize the end of Iran arms sanctions as a chance to fuel an arms race in the Persian Gulf to sell more weapons to the Arab monarchies. At the same time, it would ramp up the threadbare Iranophobia policy to press ahead with the Arab-Israeli normalization project as the embargo ends.
The regional developments in the recent years including the confrontation of the Iran-led Axis of Resistance against the terrorist groups like ISIS in Syria and Iraq and provision of modern arms to the terrorists by the Western-Israeli-Arab alliance, military support to the deadly Saudi war on Yemen, and intervention in Libyan crisis demonstrate very well that weapons of which side are at service of destabilization and crisis.