A decade-long UN arms embargo on Iran has expired, as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers but despite objections from the United States.
The embargo barred Tehran from buying foreign weapons like tanks and aircraft.
Iran insisted it planned no “buying spree”, however it can now, in theory, purchase weapons to upgrade its military armaments and sell locally-produced kit abroad.
Its economy, however, is still crippled by broad US sanctions, and other nations may steer clear of arms deals with Iran for fear of American financial retaliation.
Tehran heralded the end of the embargo as “a momentous day for the international community…in defiance of the US regime’s effort.”
The Trump administration insists it has re-invoked all UN sanctions on Iran through a clause in the nuclear deal it withdrew from in 2018.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter: “Today’s normalisation of Iran’s defence co-operation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region.”
In 2010, Iran was banned by the United Nations from buying major foreign weapons systems, against a backdrop of tensions over its nuclear programme. A previous embargo targeted Iranian arms exports.
The embargoes, however, did not stop Iran from sending weapons ranging from assault rifles to ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, although Iran disputes this.
Western governments and weapons experts have repeatedly linked Iranian arms to the rebels.
Six Gulf Arab nations that supported extending the arms embargoes referenced shipments to Yemen in their objection to a resumption of any weapon sales to Iran.
In a letter to the UN Security Council they also stressed that Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger aircraft in January and that its navy accidentally killed 19 sailors in a missile strike during an exercise.
The United Nations also linked Iran to an attack on Saudi Arabia’s primary crude oil refinery, in 2019. Tehran denies any links, while Yemen’s rebel Houthis claimed responsibility.
UN travel bans on some Iranian military and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard members also end today.
US-Iran tensions escalated when an American drone killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on US forces in Iraq, injuring dozens.
Iran has steadily broken limits of the nuclear deal, attempting to pressurise Europe into salvaging the accord.
Provocations on both sides have slowed recently, as US President Donald Trump faces a re-election campaign against his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Mr Biden has said he is willing to offer Iran “a credible path back to diplomacy” if Tehran returns to “strict compliance” with the deal.
Cover image: Iranian mourners during General Qassem Soleimani's funeral in Tehran (Picture: PA).