Iran: Saudi military expenditure turned West Asia into powder keg

Iran has hit out at Saudi Arabia for shedding “crocodile tears” over the lifting of the UN arms embargo on the Islamic Republic, noting that it is hypocritical of Riyadh to voice alarm at the ban’s removal while its own purchases of American weapons have turned West Asia into a powder keg.

“It is a bitter irony though that a country that spends billions of dollars on weapons tramps around and sheds crocodile tears over the termination of UN arms restriction on 18 October,” the Iranian embassy in Belgium, home to EU headquarters, said in a post on its Twitter account.

The decade-long arms ban on Iran was removed on Sunday under UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The US was overwhelmingly defeated by other UNSC members in its attempt to extend the embargo in August.

It subsequently declared a “snapback” of all UN sanctions against Iran last month which was  roundly opposed by the JCPOA’s European, Russian and Chinese signatories. The remaining parties to the JCPOA called Washington’s move void and challenged its rationale that it was still a participant state to the nuclear accord, citing its unilateral withdrawal in May 2018.

Saudi Arabia had on several occasions called on the UN to extend the Iran arms embargo.

The Iranian diplomatic mission stressed, “Iran does NOT intend to join the arms race in West Asia which has stashed the region with American ‘beautiful weapons’.”

During his first foreign trip in 2017, US President Donald Trump boasted in Riyadh of his eagerness to sell “beautiful weapons” worth tens of billions of dollars to Qatar and other rich Persian Gulf Arab countries to create more American jobs.

Referring to Riyadh’s multi-billion military spending, the Iranian embassy said the regime has shed the blood of the Yemenis and turned the region into a weapons arsenal.

“In fact, Saudi Arabia is among the 5 largest military spenders in the world and has its hands soaked in innocent Yemeni blood. The enormous Saudi military expenditure in West Asia has turned the region into an arsenal ready to blow up,” it underlined.

Saudi Arabia spends the most on weapons in the region and the third-most in the world, behind the US and China. In 2019, the kingdom’s military expenditure stood at nearly $80 billion.

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