When UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – associated with the Iran nuclear deal – came into effect in late 2015, it included a clause preventing states from transferring conventional arms to Iran for five years. But what weapons would Iran buy, and how would they shape its military capabilities? A high-level group of experts examines the future of Gulf security after the moratorium on arms purchases expires.

Islamic Republic of Iran Army Ground ForcesDiplomatic efforts to reach a comprehensive, definitive and long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded on 14 July 2015 by China, the European Union, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the Islamic Republic of Iran. On 20 July 2015, the United Nations Security Council endorsed the JCPOA by unanimously adopting Resolution 2231. The resolution provides for the termination of the provisions of previous Security Council resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue and establishes specific restrictions on military trade with Iran that apply to all states, without exception. As per the agreement, the JCPOA became effective on 18 October 2015, ‘Adoption Day’. In accordance with paragraph 5 of Annex B of Resolution 2231, restrictions on arms-related transfers to Iran will be lifted five years after this date.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies convened a group of experts for a series of workshops in 2017 to discuss the future of Gulf security after the expiration of Resolution 2231. Participants examined the types of weapons Iran is likely to procure and their potential effects on Iran’s military doctrine, force structure and capabilities. In general, the group concluded that Iran’s military doctrine, way of war and emphasis on asymmetric tactics is likely to persist, with few exceptions. However, Iran will also seek to modernise its military and fill capability gaps through prioritised acquisitions of advanced weaponry. The need to address social and economic shortfalls caused by mismanagement and sanctions will likely constrain Iran’s military modernisation efforts. The collection of papers that follows focuses on various aspects of Iran’s modernisation effort.

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Download individual chapters:

Introduction >

The Strategic Foundations of Iran's Military Doctrine - Matthew McInnis >

Iran after Sanctions: Military Procurement and Force-Structure Decisions - Michael Eisenstadt >

Iranian Maritime Improvements: Challenges and Opportunities - John Miller >

Iran and the Challenge of Combat-Aircraft Recapitalization - Douglas Barrie >

Iran's Missile Priorities after the Nuclear Deal - Michael Elleman >

Iranian Unmanned Systems - John Drennan >

Iran: Prospective, Rapid Technological Breakthroughs - Jeremy Vaughan >


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