Amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the expiration of the United Nations embargo on Iran's ability to procure and sell missiles and drones has raised concerns about a potential increase in aggression from the Iranian regime. The embargo, which is set to expire on Wednesday, also known as "Transition Day," has been a source of contention in recent weeks as experts warn of the implications of lifting these sanctions.
According to Richard Goldberg, a former member of the National Security Council and current senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Biden administration's decision to allow the sanctions to expire is a "huge victory" for Iran and a "reward for terrorism and proliferation around the world." This sentiment is shared by other experts on Tehran who fear that lifting the embargo will only serve to escalate the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
Those who oppose allowing the sanctions to expire point to the fact that Iran's ally, Hamas, is responsible for the recent mass murder of 1,400 people in southern Israel, with the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani being implicated as the mastermind behind the attack. In addition, experts warn that the lifting of these sanctions will also have a detrimental effect on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as Iran will likely supply drones to Russia in their fight against the Ukrainian government.
The potential ramifications of these lifted sanctions have not gone unnoticed in the international community, with the European members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the EU3, publicly announcing their decision to keep their ballistic missile and nuclear proliferation-related sanctions on Iran in place.
However, despite this gesture from the EU3, many experts remain skeptical that these sanctions will have any significant impact on Iran's actions. Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, believes that the only way to truly stop these sanctions from expiring was through the invocation of "snapback" sanctions, which would effectively restore the UN sanctions on Iran's weapons procurement system. Yet, as it stands, the US and Europe are still committed to the JCPOA, making this option unlikely.
The impending expiration of the sanctions has also raised concerns about an increase in demand for Iranian drones, with roughly 50 nations reportedly expressing interest in purchasing these weapons. This comes as Bolivia's socialist government has recently signed a defense and security memorandum of understanding with Iran, indicating their interest in obtaining drone technology from the regime.
The lifting of these sanctions has the potential to further destabilize the already volatile situation in the Middle East, and experts warn that Iran may become bolder in its actions if it believes in the power and effectiveness of its growing missile force. As the Wednesday deadline looms closer, the international community is watching closely to see how the US and Europe will respond and whether or not they will take action to prevent these sanctions from expiring.