Iran: UN arms embargo on Tehran has been lifted

Above, Iranians visit a weaponry and military equipment exhibition in Tehran in this photo taken on Feb. 2, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Iran: UN arms embargo on Tehran has been lifted

  • Tehran, which could now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the development as a diplomatic victory

TEHRAN: Iran said a longstanding UN embargo on arms sales to and from the Islamic republic expired Sunday in line with a 2015 landmark nuclear deal with world powers from which Washington has withdrawn.
Tehran, which could now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the development as a diplomatic victory over its arch enemy the United States, which had tried to maintain an indefinite freeze on arms sales.
“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 foreign ministry said in a statement.
The embargo on the sale of conventional 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.
It insisted that under the terms of the deal, struck with the United States, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, “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 nuclear 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.
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 nuclear 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.
Iran urged the US to “abandon its destructive approach vis-a-vis Resolution 2231,” adding that American attempts to “violate” the resolution had been “categorically rejected several times in the past three months by the Security Council.”
The statement added that in the case of measures amounting to a “material breach of the resolution and the purposes” of the deal, Iran “reserves the right to take any necessary countermeasures to secure its national interests.”
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 Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that the international community had “protected” the nuclear deal and Sunday marked the “normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world.”


US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

Updated 22 October 2020

US officials: Iran sent emails intimidating American voters

  • Intelligence director: “These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries”

WASHINGTON: US officials accused Iran on Wednesday of being behind a flurry of emails sent to Democratic voters in multiple battleground states that appeared to be aimed at intimidating them into voting for President Donald Trump.
The announcement at a rare, hastily called news conference just two weeks before the election underscored the concern within the US government about efforts by foreign countries to spread false information meant to suppress voter turnout and undermine American confidence in the vote.
The activities attributed to Iran would mark a significant escalation for a nation that some cybersecurity experts regard as a second-rate player in online espionage, with the announcement coming as most public discussion surrounding election interference has centered on Russia, which hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 election, and China, a Trump administration adversary.
“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” said John Ratcliffe, the government’s top intelligence official, who, along with FBI Director Chris Wray, insisted the US would impose costs on any foreign countries that interfere in the 2020 US election and that the integrity of the election is still sound.
“You should be confident that your vote counts,” Wray said. “Early, unverified claims to the contrary should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
Wray and Ratcliffe did not describe the emails linked to Iran, but officials familiar with the matter said the US has linked Tehran to messages sent to Democratic voters in at least four battleground states that falsely purported to be from the neo-fascist group Proud Boys and that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for Trump.
The officials also said Iran and Russia had obtained voter registration data, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Ratcliffe said the spoofed emails were intended to hurt Trump, though he did not elaborate on how. An intelligence assessment released in August said: “Iran seeks to undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on online influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content.”
Trump, speaking at a rally in North Carolina, made no reference to the press conference but repeated a familiar campaign assertion that Iran is opposed to his reelection. He promised that if he wins another term he will swiftly reach a new accord with Iran over its nuclear program.
“Iran doesn’t want to let me win. China doesn’t want to let me win,” Trump said. “The first call I’ll get after we win, the first call I’ll get will be from Iran saying let’s make a deal.”
Both Russia and Iran also obtained voter registration information, though such data is considered easily, publicly accessible. Tehran used the information to send out the spoofed emails, which were sent to voters in states including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Asked about the emails during an online forum Wednesday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said she lacked specific information. “I am aware that they were sent to voters in multiple swing states and we are working closely with the attorney general on these types of things and others,” she said.
While state-backed Russian hackers are known to have infiltrated US election infrastructure in 2016, there is no evidence that Iran has ever done so.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.