Iran says UN arms embargo on Tehran has ended

5 years after nuclear deal took effect, ‘all restrictions on transfer of arms terminated,’ Islamic Republic says, hailing world’s position ‘in defiance of US regime’s efforts’

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display at an exhibition by Iran's army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in downtown Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

A Shahab-3 surface-to-surface missile is on display at an exhibition by Iran’s army and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in downtown Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran — A longstanding UN embargo on arms sales to and from Iran expired early Sunday in line with a 2015 landmark nuclear deal, the Iranian foreign ministry said.

“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 ministry said in a statement.

The embargo on the sale of arms to Iran was due to start expiring progressively from Sunday, October 18, 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 in the statement sent out on Twitter.

This photo released by the semi-official Fars News Agency shows Iranian troops participating in a military drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Iran, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. Units from the navy, air force and ground forces are participating in a nearly 2 million-square-kilometer (772,200-square-mile) area of the Gulf of Oman. (Mehdi Marizad/Fars News Agency via AP)

It insisted that under the terms of the deal, struck with the United States, China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union, “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 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.

In this July 20, 2015, file photo, members of the Security Council vote at United Nations headquarters on the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. (AP/Seth Wenig, File)

It was “a momentous day for the international community,” the Iranian ministry said on Sunday, adding the world had stood with Tehran “in defiance of the US regime’s efforts.”

But it stressed that “unconventional arms, weapons of mass destruction and a buying spree of conventional arms have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine.”

Despite pulling out of the 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 the US legal argument has been rejected by almost the entire UN Security Council, with European allies of the United States saying the priority is to salvage a peaceful solution to Iran’s nuclear program.

Moscow said in September that it was ready to boost its military cooperation with Tehran, while Beijing has also spoken of its willingness to sell arms to Iran after October 18.

Washington maintained it will seek to prevent Iran from purchasing Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said in a tweet that the international community had “protected” the nuclear deal and Sunday marked the “normalization of Iran’s cooperation with the world.”

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