Iran tests air defense systems days after UN arms embargo expires

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Iran on Wednesday tested home-made air defense systems during military exercises, state media said, days after the expiry of an international arms embargo against the Islamic republic.

The maneuvers -- dubbed “Defenders of the Sky” -- took place in “an area covering half of the country’s surface,” state television’s Iribnews website reported.

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They came after Tehran ruled on Sunday that a UN arms embargo on its weapons had expired under the terms of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Iran on Monday said it was more inclined to sell weapons rather than buy them, after announcing the end of the longstanding embargo.

“In these exercises, the new generation systems of the army and Revolutionary Guard have shown their strength by relying on the power” of local production, said Iribnews.

The website said targets at medium and high altitudes were shot down by Iran’s Khordad 3 and Khordad 15 air defense systems and that fighter jets took part in the maneuvers.

“Our forces have achieved all the objectives set,” General Qader Rahimzadeh, who is commanding the exercises, told state television.

The lifting of the arms embargo allows Iran to buy and sell military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, helicopters and heavy artillery.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that his country did not intend to engage in an “arms race in the region.”

In May 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, saying it did not offer sufficient guarantees to stop Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb. Iran has always denied it wants such a weapon.

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