A top Russian official has revealed that the sale of arms to Iran will continue to follow UN procedures.
The nuclear deal struck between the P5+1 powers and Iran will lead to the lifting of economic sanctions, and the continued supervision of arms sales by the UN. A deal was finally struck on Tuesday morning after almost 20 months of negotiations, writes Christopher Harress for The International Business Times.
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Russia and China arms sales to be overseen by UN
Under the terms of the deal, Iran cannot buy any weapons for five years, nor buy missile technology for 8. However Russian Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told state news agency TASS that “weapons supplies will be possible after corresponding procedures, notification and verification via the United Nations Security Council” during those years.
During the interview on Tuesday he also stated: “Russia and China insisted on its lifting among the first restrictions subject to abandonment. In the long run, the Iranian partners — and they have a decisive say here — have agreed for a compromise, since the West has been insisting on keeping the weapons ban in place for eight [years].”
Russia and China are expected to compete for arms contracts with Iran as part of efforts by both nations to export military hardware. “Finally, a compromise has been reached between the Iranians and the Western partners, and Russian and China has supported it, bearing in mind that Iran agreed on that,” Lavrov continued.
What will happen to existing S-300 deal?
A deal is already in place for the sale of S-300 missile defense systems from Russia to Iran, but the ban on the sale of missile technology may complicate matters. The deal was allegedly a gesture of good will due to Iran’s willingness to engage in talks.
The S-300 is a powerful missile defense system which could alter the balance of military power in the Middle East, and analysts are concerned that it would provide a formidable barrier to potential future air strikes ordered if Iran breaks the terms of the agreement. Compliance is sure to be a major issue with Iran, as it was previously with North Korea.
There is surely a danger that the relaxation of sanctions will allow Iran to retool its military, as well as continuing to work on nuclear weapons, to such an extent that Tehran becomes far more difficult to control than it is currently. For example a series of S-300 units could be used to create a strong air defense shield around the subterranean nuclear facilities at Fordow, significantly raising the stakes of a potential airstrike.
Nuclear deal will have ramifications for other geopolitical issues
Lavrov also expects the U.S. to end its interest in maintaining a missile defense shield in Europe. He pointed out that during a speech in Prague in 2009, President Obama said that there would be no need for a such a shield should a deal be reached with Iran over its nuclear program.
“That’s why we drew the attention of our American colleagues to this fact today and we will expect a reaction,” Lavrov said.
The deal with Iran opens up a huge amount of new possibilities for business, trade and international relations. Russia will be keen to sell weapons to Iran in an attempt to bring some money into its ailing economy, but will face stiff competition from China.
At the same time, businesses from all over the world will presumably rush to invest in Iran, and Obama has promised benefits to U.S. business as a result of the deal. However the aftermath of the conflict in Iraq sets a discouraging precedent for U.S. firms, who largely lost out to Chinese competitors. The same situation may unfold once more as state aid to Chinese companies helps them to outbid competitors from the U.S. and Europe.
Wider implications of a deal with Iran
As Obama looks to secure his legacy with historic progress in international relations, he may derive more benefit from the deal than the U.S. does as a nation. The terms of the deal provide no guarantees that Iran will not one day develop nuclear weapons, and the lifting of economic sanctions will allow Iran to support its proxy armies throughout the Middle East to an even greater extent.
Not only could Iran itself contribute to geopolitical flashpoints further down the road, but the striking of such a deal may lead to demands from other nations. Lavrov has clearly not forgotten Obama’s speech in Prague, and it may not be long before other issues are affected by the deal struck with Iran.
Of course there is a possibility that the deal will lead to peace and prosperity in Iran and throughout the region, but it is hard to trust a regime which still willingly declares that it would take 1,000 Americans hostage if Washington considers an armed attack against Tehran.