Iran will be one of the world's largest arms exporters if US sanctions are lifted, claimed Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri during a ceremony on Monday, according to the Iranian Young Journalists Club.
"In the field of self-reliance, self-confidence and self-sufficiency, we are more than self-sufficient in weapons and equipment, in designing strategies and policies, in operational plans and tactics, and in what we must do in the defense and security of the country," said Bagheri.
Bagheri stressed that Iran does need to import equipment from other countries, adding that "if the criminal US sanctions are lifted we will become one of the world's largest arms exporters."
In 2020, then Iranian defense minister Amir Hatami stated that Iran continued arms cooperation with some countries even while sanctions were imposed against arms trade with Iran. "The Islamic Republic of Iran has reached good positions in the field of arms exports to some countries during this period and agreements have been concluded in this field," said Hatami at the time.
The UN arms embargo on Iran ended in 2020, although US sanctions on arms sales are still in place. After the embargo ended Hatami claimed that Iran's export of weapons will exceed its purchases.
Iran is known to smuggle weapons to its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. It is unclear if these are the exports referred to by Iranian officials.
Meanwhile, Israeli arms exports represented 3% of global arms exports between 2016 and 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). In 2018-2019, Israel was ranked 9th in SIPRI's list of top arms exporters.