Tehran continued its war of words with Washington on Monday, following the US’ threat to sanction those doing arms deals with Iran now that a UN embargo on its military has ended.

A spokesperson for the Iranian government claimed America was in “fear’‘ of Tehran’s return to the arms market after a 13-year agreement that banned Iran buying or selling weapons “to anyone, anywhere” expired at the weekend.  

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of Iran’s “radical ideology” as he sought to discourage munitions deals with the Islamic Republic, adding: “We are prepared to use domestic authorities to sanction individuals or entities contributing to these arms sales.” 

No nation that desires a peaceful Middle East should contemplate arms sales with Iran – every weapon the regime buys will be at the disposal of its radical ideology. We are prepared to use domestic authorities to sanction individuals or entities contributing to these arms sales.

Responding to Pompeo’s comments, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described them as “the most important sign that not even he believes unilateral US sanctions have been successful, and no [UN sanctions] have been reinstated.” 

“What they fear is Iran’s return to the massive market of technology and arms exports,” he added, saying Tehran still believes it can “operate within the framework of international agreements.” 

Khatibzadeh also claimed the country’s domestic production accounted for some 90 percent of its defense requirements. The foreign ministry has previously said no arms “buying spree” was on the cards in the wake of the embargo’s expiration.  

On Sunday Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the end of the embargo as a “momentous day.” 

The 2007 UN Security Council arms embargo on Iran was agreed by the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US in a bid to “constrain” Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The expiration of the embargo was agreed between Iran and the other six powers under the 2015 nuclear deal, which forced Iran to destroy 98 percent of its enriched uranium.  

In return for Iran scaling back its nuclear activities, international sanctions were lifted and the country was allowed to sell its oil and gas across the globe.

The end of the embargo means Iran is now able to buy and sell arms, including missiles and tanks, although the country is still crippled economically from US sanctions. 

In May 2018, the US unilaterally withdrew from the accord, and has since failed in its repeated attempts to petition the UN to reimpose a raft of sanctions against Iran.  

A separate EU and UK ban on weapons deals with Iran is set to remain in place until 2023.

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