After 13 Years, Iran’s Arms Embargo Is Finally Lifted

No obstacles for Russia and China to sell arms to Iran

13 years after implementation, the UN Security Council arms embargo against Iran has expired, and is finally lifted. This ends UN legal obstacles to Iran buying conventional weapons and services related to those arms.

The embargo’s end comes despite US and Israeli opposition, and with threats from both to attempt to keep enforcing the no longer in place embargo. This only applies to UN restrictions, as EU embargoes on Iran remain in place through at least 2023.

The most likely sellers to Iran are Russia and China. The two nations have no legal obstacles any longer, probably won’t be cowed by US threats, and Russia has repeatedly said they intend to make offers of defensive equipment to Iran once this embargo ended.

Iranian officials say that they don’t have any intention of engaging in any major arms acquisitions right now. Iranian leaders are emphasizing this as a diplomatic victory, with the embargo expiration coming as part of the P5+1 nuclear deal.

That’s likely a big part of why this is so galling for the US, as they’ve been trying to undermine that nuclear deal for years, and having thwarted most of the sanctions relief the deal was meant to ensure, have proven incapable of stopping the arms embargo’s lifting.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.