TEHERAN • Iran yesterday said a longstanding UN embargo on arms sales to and from the Islamic Republic has expired, in line with a 2015 landmark nuclear agreement with world powers from which the US has withdrawn.
Teheran, which could now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the development as a diplomatic victory over its arch enemy, Washington, which had tried to maintain an indefinite freeze on arms sales.
"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," the foreign ministry said in a statement sent out on Twitter.
The embargo on the sale of conventional arms to Iran was due to start expiring progressively from yesterday under the terms of the UN resolution that blessed the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers.
"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.
It insisted that under the terms of the deal, struck with the United States, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, "the lifting of arms restrictions and the travel ban were designed to be automatic with no other action required".
US President Donald Trump withdrew his country from the nuclear deal in 2018 and has unilaterally begun reimposing sanctions on Iran. But Washington suffered a setback in August when it failed to win support from the United Nations Security Council to indefinitely extend the arms embargo.
It was "a momentous day for the international community", the Iranian ministry said yesterday, adding that the world had stood with Teheran "in defiance of the US regime's efforts". But the ministry also stressed that "unconventional arms, weapons of mass destruction and a buying spree of conventional arms have no place in Iran's defence doctrine".
Despite pulling out of the nuclear deal, the Trump administration insists it is still a "participant" and can therefore go ahead with reimposing sanctions.
Washington has said it has decided to unilaterally reinstate virtually all of the UN sanctions on Iran lifted under the accord.
But Washington's legal argument has been rejected by almost the entire UN Security Council, with European allies of the US saying the priority is to salvage a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear programme.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that the international community had "protected" the nuclear deal and that yesterday marked the "normalisation" of Iran's defence cooperation with the world.