Since 2007 Iran has been under an arms embargo mandated by the U.N. Security Council. Iran is currently subject to many different types of sanctions, but this arms embargo invoked a recent controversy. For starters under the terms of the JCPOA, the embargo is set to expire in October, showing that Iran has been cooperating with the terms of the deal. The JCPOA itself is subject to scrutiny after the U.S. pulled out of the deal because Iran was not holding up its end of the bargain. Even though the U.S. is not a party to the JCPOA, the U.S. is still seeking to have the embargo extended, which caused an explosive response from the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Iran’s President said that if the U.S. continues to push for the extension of the embargo, then Iran will have a “crushing response” which has spurred the latest look into the debate of arms control and trade in Iran.
Form Iran’s perspective, the U.S. has lost all rights to the extent to the sanctions. Some doubt that the U.S. will be able to get the votes necessary to extend the embargo. China and Russia, who hold veto power, have expressed disinterest in extending the embargo. Both countries would be able to sell arms to Iran once the embargo is lifted. Rouhani stated that if the U.S. wants to get involved, then it should re-enter the deal and lift all the sanctions as compensation for leaving the agreement. From the U.S. perspective, it is still a permanent member of the U.N. security council and JCPOA or not, Iran should have the embargo extended because they are not following the terms. Plus, the U.S. can snap back all sanctions. Actions and words do not match up on either side. Iran says it wants the deal to stay in place but at the same time has “rolled backs its commitments.” At the same time, the U.S. pulls out of the agreement but still wants oversight and control.
One of the questions that this brings to light is the trade-off between nuclear and conventional weapons. European nations want the embargo extended but fear that by doing that, it would null the rest of the JCPOA, which is a trade-off that those nations are not willing to do. The U.S. seems to have taken the stance that conventional weapons are more of a threat right now. At the same time, other nations, especially in Europe, believe that regulating nuclear weapons is more important. This trade-off is not one that can be made lightly. Another thing to question is with all the other sanctions in place, even if the U.N. Embargo ended, it would still be challenging for Iran to procure arms, which could point to political grandstanding by both nations.