Defense Politics

UN Security Council ban on Iran weapons imports has ended

The UN Security Council ban on Iran’s weapon imports ended on Sunday, October 18. The ban expires after 13-years and it is a blow to the US because they fail in their attempt to extend the arms embargo on Iran.

The end of the ban means Iran will now be able to sell and buy weapons which include tanks, missiles, and helicopters. 

A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 

 “Today is a  momentous day for the international community, which in defiance of the US regime’s efforts has protected UN Security Council resolution 2231 and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)… “. 

Foreign ministry further said in a statement, all restrictions on arms-related activities and financial services, to and from the country, are all automatically terminated. 

In May 2018,the US unilaterally withdrew from JCPOA. And try to impose hard economic restrictions on Iran.

While now in August, the US in the UN Security Council presents a resolution to indefinitely extend the weapons embargo on Iran.

There are a total of 14 UN Security Council members. 11 out of 14 neither declined nor supported the resolution. 2 members including China and Russia oppose the illegal extension. While only one member state of UNSC out of 14 supported the resolution.

Iranian Hackers target US Military Officials with google account hacks

Due to the overall majority, the UNSC has rejected the US resolution to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran. 

But the US threatens to bear consequences for countries who try to sell weapons to Iran after the weapons ban ended.

US Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo said in a statement, 

“US will sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran”.

Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s Deputy UN ambassador in response to Mike Pompeo in a tweet said that the US can help Middle East peace by not provoking Iran. And America has to change the words “sanctions and punishment” to “dialog and engagement”. Which helps a lot to make the US respected again. 

“Every nation that seeks peace and stability in the middle east and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transaction with Iran”.

Mike Pompeo further said.

“In the short term, the impact of expiry will be limited. Irans’s financial position means we don’t expect them to be able to make large purchases of arms”.  A European diplomat said.

Iran’s specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations Think-Tank, Ellie Geranmayeh said, China and Russia could likely announce an arms agreement with Iran to poke the US in the eye, just to show that the US was the loser in the game.

The expiration of the arms embargo on Iran does not affect the balance of power in the region for the short term. Because the regional rivals of Iran, UAE, and Saudi Arabia spend billions of dollars on US arms purchases.

Iran drops India from key Chabahar mega railway line project

On the other hand, since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, was under international sanctions which forced it to develop its own defense industry.

Iran, using its own defense industry, produced some deadly weapons in recent times which includes drones, ballistic missiles, and indigenous missile defense systems.

The weapons embargo expiration also helps Russia and China to take economic benefits by normalizing trade with Iran. 

China and Iran:

China and Iran, both are looking forward to making a 25-years strategic partnership deal, which includes billions of dollars investment from China in Iran to take advantage of oil-rich Middle Eastern country and to connect it to the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and with CPEC. The detailed information about the deal has yet to be published.

Russia and Iran:

On the other hand, Russia is also engaging with Tehran for its arms exports which include fighter jets, tanks, and missiles defense systems.

However a research fellow with the International Security Program at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Nicole Grajewski said that there is no confirmation that Russia and Iran have finalized any potential arms agreement. 

Researchers believe that Russia and Iran may enjoy the boost in military cooperation after the expiration of the weapons ban from the UNSC.

Iran’s Perspective:

Hussain Dalirian, Iran’s defense expert, explained that after years of sanctions, Iran decided to rely on its own engineers and experts to boost its defense production and develop the defense technological base in the country.

“With this perspective, extensive efforts were launched inside Iran to develop a diverse range of advanced arms and systems that are now produced locally, which are on par with those of developed nations, even as attested by military experts of Iran’s enemies”.

Defense expert told Al-Jazeera. 

These systems include UAV’s and Bavar-373 surface-to-air missile defense system, among other weapons which were rolled out in August-2019.

However, defense experts said that it is not yet possible for Iran in terms of economy or technology advancement to produce the most advanced weapon systems like 5th generation fighter jets. 


After analyzing the details of the current situation regarding Iran and the UN Security Council’s decision to discontinue the Iran arms embargo, Iran looks in a good political position on international forums.

But the US is losing ground against Iran, due to its wrong policies of unnecessary economic and political pressure and sanctions on Iran. Which is also disrespected by many neutral countries, especially in the UN Security Council.


  1. Tweet by Muhammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister
  2. Article published in Financial Times
  3. Report in Al Jazeera
  4. Articles posted in Defense News