Sunset of the Iran Arms Embargo: The Narrow Path to a Policy Compromise

June 29, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Military


Michael Singh


Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Delinking the embargo from the nuclear deal could offer the best hope of reducing tensions within the P5+1 while also limiting Iran’s access to sophisticated weaponry.

The United Nations restriction on Iran buying and selling arms is due to expire in October 2020, making the first of the nuclear agreement’s sunsets imminent. This was a chief complaint of the deal’s critics when it was debated in 2015. Once the embargo ends, Iran would be free to purchase weapons listed on the UN register of conventional arms, as well as to export them, without requiring the prior approval of the Security Council as it does today. The Trump administration has indicated its determination not to permit the embargo to expire and its intention to introduce a Security Council resolution extending it indefinitely. The administration has warned that if that resolution is not adopted, it is prepared to exercise the nuclear accord’s “snapback” provision, effectively erasing the deal from the books and restoring all of the UN sanctions that it relieved, the arms embargo included.


Read the full policy analysis at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.