Iran's acquisition of Russian Su-35s could set fire to the Middle East

While the Russian intervention in Ukraine profoundly altered European geopolitics and triggered a major energy crisis, its influence on global geopolitics had so far been relatively moderate. As time goes by, some countries seem inclined to take advantage of Russia's relative isolation on this international scene, to their own advantage. This is the case of North Korea, which has intensified its exchanges with Moscow in recent weeks, in particular by offering available and very cheap labor to support the Russian war effort, in particular for major works. infrastructure and agricultural needs. In exchange, Pyongyang intends that Moscow lift the sanctions regime that hit the country following the 2017 nuclear tests and the development of North Korean ballistic capabilities, which were, in their time, supported by Moscow. If the North Korean authorities have not negotiated an arms contract with Moscow, at least publicly, another country under international sanctions seems determined to monetize its support from Russia in this area precisely, Iran.

Since December 2006 and the vote of resolution 1737 by the United Nations Security Council, Tehran has been subject to strict sanctions in the field of armaments, while other international sanctions, voted within the framework of the United Nations or announced unilaterally, hit the country and its economy, in particular by restricting its hydrocarbon export capacities and preventing large companies from settling in the country. The objective of these sanctions is to induce Iran to abandon its military nuclear program. In fact, Iranian GDP has fallen from almost $600 billion in 2012 to less than $200 billion in 2020, bringing this country, despite having 15% of the world's oil reserves, to 67th place in the world in terms of GDP per capita. As for the Iranian armed forces, if they have certain high-performance locally-made equipment in the field of ballistic missiles or drones, they implement, for the most part, retrofits of equipment inherited from the Sha era, and more than 50 years old, such as the F4 Phantom II, F5 Tiger and F14 tomcat which today still constitute the iron spearhead of its air force.

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Iran has made significant progress in the field of missiles, in particular with regard to short and medium range ballistic missiles

On the occasion of a relative normalization of relations between Tehran and the international community, between 1998 and 2005, the Iranian authorities acquired some more modern equipment, in particular T-72 tanks, Tor anti-aircraft systems and Buk as well as Kilo submarines from Russia, Chinese J-7 fighters and some Pakistani and even European equipment. However, while the Iranian defense industry has made significant progress in many areas, including armor, shipbuilding, missile and radar construction, the most demanding areas, such as the design of high-performance combat aircraft, remain out of reach. It is therefore not surprising that in the current context, thehe Iranian Air Force Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi, has declared his intention to acquire Russian Su-35 general-purpose fighters.

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