Global Updates: Iran hails lifting of UN arms embargo

Iran hails lifting of UN arms embargo

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Iran hails lifting of UN arms embargo
Iran hails lifting of UN arms embargo

In News: Iran hails lifting of UN arms embargo

  • A decade-long UN arms embargo on Iran has expired on 18th of October, as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers, despite objections from the United States.
  • The arms embargo had barred Iran from purchasing foreign weapons like tanks and fighter jets.

News Summary:

  • A decade-long UN arms embargo on Iran has expired on 18th of October.
  • Iran heralded the end of the arms embargo as “a momentous day for the international community.”
  • It said the normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region.

Despite removal of arms embargo, Iran might continue to struggle to buy arms:

  • Iran can potentially purchase many weapons to upgrade its legacy military armaments.
  • It can also sell its own locally produced gear abroad.
  • In practice, however, Iran’s economy remains crippled by broad-reaching U.S. sanctions.
  • Also, other nations may avoid arms deals with Tehran for fear of American financial retaliation.

US says it will penalize any country dealing in arms with Iran:

  • AS per US agencies, with the end of arms embargo, Iran likely would try to purchase Russian Su-30 fighter jets, T-90 tanks, S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and its Bastian coastal defense missile system. China also could sell Iran arms.
  • The Trump administration has warned that any sales of weapons to Iran or exports from Iran will be penalized.
  • The US said that its authorities will sanction any individual/entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran. Those who provide technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these arms will also be sanctioned.


Efforts to prevent Iranian nuclear enrichment programme:
  • Since 2003, various Western nations have been negotiating with Iran over its nuclear policy.
  • They wanted Iran to agree to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and suspend its nuclear enrichment program (that can be used in nuclear weapons), to prevent a nuclear arms race in the middle-east.
  • In 2006, after the IAEA voted to refer Iran to the United Nations and Iran revealed that is it is enriching uranium, the P5+1, made up of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, Germany and France, was created.
  • P5+1 proposed a framework for an agreement aimed at stopping Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which was rejected by Iran.
  • From 2006-2010, the United Nations, United States and the European Union imposed various sanctions against Iran, that were expanded over time, touching on trade, energy, financial services, transport, visa bans and asset freezes.
Arms embargo on Iran:
  • In December 2006, the UNSC established an embargo on the export to and import from Iran of certain items and technology potentially related to nuclear weapons.
  • In 2007, the UNSC imposed an embargo on the export from Iran of all arms and related materials, thereby banning all states and groups from purchasing or receiving arms from Iran.
  • In 2010, the UN prohibited states to directly or indirectly supply, or help to supply, Iran with major conventional weapons.


  • In 2015, the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China.
  • Under the deal, Iran had agreed to put various restrictions on its nuclear program in return for relief from the US and other economic sanctions.
  • In response, various economic sanctions on Iran were removed. The economic sanctions had kept Iran away from international banking and the global oil trade.
  • As part of the deal, the arms embargo on Iran for conventional weapons all states will be lifted five years after the JCPOA Adoption Day (18 October 2015), i.e., on 18 October 2020.

US withdrawal from JCPOA:

  • However, in 2018, the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran it had lifted earlier. The US claimed the deal did not account for the Iran’s ballistic missile programme and Iran’s role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
    • The sanctions penalize buyers of Iranian oil, along with blacklisting various Iranian banks, ships, Iran’s national airline and more than 65 Iranian aircraft.
  • The other parties to the 2015 JCPOA deal – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – were not in favour of US unilaterally imposing sanctions.

Recent US efforts to extend the embargo failed:

  • As the UNSC arms embargo on Iran was set to expire on October 18, 2020, the US, in August 2020, made a proposal at the 15-member UNSC to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran.
  • However, the resolution was defeated, with the US getting support from only the Dominican Republic at the vote.
  • In response, the US tried to restore UN sanctions on Iran through a “snapback” provision.
    • The 2015 JCPOA deal has a mechanism that allows any of the parties to the agreement to “snapback” (reinstate) UN sanctions on Iran.
  • However, as US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, the other parties at the UNSC said that US cannot trigger “snapbank” after withdrawing from the deal.
  • Reasons:
    • The countries opposing United States’ move fear that the re-imposition of sanctions may lead to a situation where Iran might quit the nuclear deal entirely and move ahead with efforts to develop atomic weapons.
    • Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, still support the 2015 nuclear deal and are hoping to preserve the JCPOA and are also planning to revive the agreement in the near future.

Also Read: 13 of 15-member UNSC oppose US push to impose Iran sanctions

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