3 thoughts on “Arms sales”

  1. As I have often remarked, arms sales in the Kingdom are driven by two factors: first, I suppose, by national pride and the need to keep young men from good families in military employment, to give them skills and keep them loyal, and secondly to provide another major revenue source for the senior princes. I am not forgetting that the Kingdom has become much more warlike in the past year. Saudi Arabia is not the only country on the planet which, having amassed a huge arsenal, is driven to using it. In my view, shortage of funds from the sale of oil is likely to boost spending on arms rather than depress it. Being at war, or threatening war in a number of neighbouring countries, helps make the case.

  2. ‘That is not surprising, since the end of some sanctions means that Iran will certainly increase its arms imports, but according to SIPRI from a very low base: $27 million repeat million in 2015 compared with Saudi Arabia’s $5.9 billion (constant 1990 prices). Of course figures for trade when sanctions are in place have to be taken with a large pinch of salt.’

    There are two major differences between Arab and Iranian procurement, which make future Iranian arms purchases less likely. The first and most obvious is that Iran has a substantial military-industrial base (and complex!) of its own, and has had such since Reza Shah set up an aircraft factory in 1932. As well as designing some of its own equipment, Iran re-engineers (and reverse-engineers) many foreign weapons systems for domestic use, as well as a substantial clandestine export market (such as small arms ammunition into Africa.)

    As was the case with apartheid South Africa, the sanctions regime has had the unintended effect of increasing and buttressing IRI military production; indeed, the formal name of the IRI MoD is Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. The end of the sanctions regime is thus as likely to see efforts by Iran to export its own equipment and materiel legally – in particular to client or aligned countries and groupings – as it is to see imports to IRI.

    The second issue is that the IRI has found that much of the legacy equipment bought by Muhammad Reza Shah from the US and UK etc became progressively more useless as IRI was blocked from buying spares and upgrades. IRI is likely to try to avoid falling into that trap again, thus will likely import any additional systems from Russia and China (which pay less attention to US-led sanctions), as it has done already with systems such as the Russian S-300 SAM system, and the Chinese Harpy UAV (re-engineered as the Ardebil).

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