WASHINGTON (SBG) —
With the expiration of a United Nations arms embargo against Iran, the country’s leaders will likely seek to purchase new military hardware from the Kremlin, analysts said Monday.
“I think Iran will prioritize the kinds of air and missile defense equipment that will enable them to defend their illegal nuclear weapons production facilities,” said Tim Morrison, a former arms control official at the White House National Security Council under President Trump.
“And there’s really only two countries that are going to be willing to sell them military equipment,” added Morrison, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. “And that’s Russia and China. That’s not a great position to be in, if you’re Iran.”
Still, Iran celebrated the expiration of the embargo, enacted in 2010, with one senior official hailing it as “a momentous day for the international community.” “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,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted.
While America’s European allies resisted demands from the Trump administration over the last three months to re-impose the arms embargo on Iran, and also balked at instituting “snap-back” sanctions on the regime, as the U.S. has also urged, the governments in Britain, France, and Germany are seen as unlikely to sell arms directly to Iran, for fear of violating U.S. sanctions that could result in those countries being cut off from the American financial system.
“The president has always said he doesn’t want this to end in war,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Sinclair in an interview. “He wants this to end in peace. He wants this to end in negotiations for a new and better deal. And at some point, the regime, we think, is going to have to calculate that the price to pay of these sanctions is too high of a burden, and they’re going to reluctantly come to the table to negotiate.”
For the moment, however, with the U.S. presidential election two weeks away and President Donald Trump badly trailing his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in most public opinion polls, America’s adversaries on the world stage are unlikely to participate in meaningful negotiations with Washington, preferring instead to see the outcome of the race for the White House.
In May 2018, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, calling the accord — finalized by seven countries, including the United States, Iran, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany — “a horrible, one-sided deal.” Since then, has periodically announced that it will enrich uranium to levels, and in volumes, prohibited by the accord, but has otherwise stayed in it, as have the other nations besides the U.S.
Former Vice President Biden claims credit for helping to secure the cooperation of the other nations that were party to the nuclear deal. On the campaign trail earlier this year, Mr. Biden signaled that his approach to the containment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and its conventional military buildup, would be to reassemble the international coalition that negotiated the nuclear deal and revive the accord.
“It was working,” Mr. Biden said of the nuclear deal during a debate against his rivals for the Democratic nomination in January. “It was being held tightly. There was no movement on the part of the Iranian government to get closer to a nuclear weapon….We’re now isolated….The next president has to be able to pull those folks back together, re-establish our alliances, and insist that Iran go back into the agreement, which I believe with the pressure applied as we put on before we can get done.”
Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election, the next commander-in-chief will confront an Iran that — while badly weakened by stiffened U.S. sanctions under the Trump administration — is armed with the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East, opportunities to acquire new military systems, and undiminished hostility to the U.S. and Israel.
Morrison said the next administration, whoever runs it, will benefit from the foundation laid by Trump: “I think you’ve already seen a fairly significant effort by Iran to attempt to create a new sort of deterrence in the region. And ultimately, I think the Trump administration has been successful in defeating that, and imposing its own sort of deterrence.”