Critics of the Iranian nuclear deal charged that the Obama administration was not sufficiently concerned with how Iran would spend the money from its post-sanctions windfall. Evidently, departing President Obama and his team thought domestic political pressures would oblige the Iranian government to invest more heavily in constructive economic pursuits.
Reuters reports that, on the contrary, Iran is looking forward to more military spending, including more funding for ballistic missile tests that were supposed to be banned by the nuclear deal.
Iranian media announced that lawmakers voted for a five-year development plan that “requires government to increase Iran’s defense capabilities as a regional power and preserve the country’s national security and interests by allocating at least five percent of annual budget” to military spending.
The plan includes funding for “long-range missiles, armed drones, and cyber-war capabilities.”
Also still a spending priority for Tehran: arms for terrorists. Despite the nuclear deal, an arms embargo from the United Nations is still nominally in effect, but outgoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “expressed concern that Iran may have violated the embargo by supplying weapons and missiles to Hezbollah,” according to Reuters.
Ban’s concerns are based, in part, by senior Hezbollah officials loudly boasting in public that all of their expenses, including weapons, are paid by Iran. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah also spent the weekend praising recently-deceased Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani as a “great supporter and backer” of his movement.
Hezbollah has benefited greatly from Iran’s patronage. Newsweek pronounced Hezbollah the “real winner of the Battle of Aleppo” because fighting for Iran in Syria has enormously increased its prestige.
“Not only did Hezbollah gain valuable battlefield experience; it also preserved its pipeline of weaponry coming from Iran through Syria, which is likely the main reason the group entered the war,” Newsweek noted. There is some dark humor in the article’s subsequent observation that, besides the fighters it lost, the biggest downside for Hezbollah from its adventure in Syria is that it dislikes the Syrian government more than ever, after fighting on its behalf, and the feeling is mutual.
Not only that, but another Reuters report mentions an arms shipment from Iran seized in March that was probably destined for Somalia or Yemen.
Dismissing these concerns by arguing that even Iran’s expanded military spending is dwarfed by that of Western powers misses the point. Iran gets a lot of bang for its buck, if you’ll pardon the expression. It doesn’t have to protect its power across oceans, and its proxy armies are relatively inexpensive. It obviously doesn’t worry about developing expensive high-tech smart weapons to minimize collateral damage. It can buy a great deal of terror and unrest with its post-sanctions money, and it shows every sign of splurging on those ends, no matter how much it complains about the nuclear deal generating less revenue than it expected.