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Iran questions record US weapons exports to autocratic regimes

This file picture shows a US-built PAC-3 Patriot missile defense system.

The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry has questioned Washington's claims of standing for democratic values, citing the country's rank as  the largest arms exporter and supplier of munitions to autocratic regimes.

Nasser Kan’ani wrote in a series of posts published on his Twitter page on Friday that the United States sold weapons to 142 countries in 2022, and provided 57 percent of the world’s autocracies with its arms.

Kan’ani noted that US arms in 2022 exceeded the record highs registered during the tenure of former US president Donald Trump. 

"Slogan: Democratic values! And exports: weapons for war, killing and repression!," the spokesman wrote. 

“It is up to the world public opinion to judge: Is the United States an advocate of democracy and world peace? According to investigations carried out by [the American news organization] Intercept, the US has been the world’s largest exporter of weapons since the end of the Cold War, and accounted for nearly 40% of the world's total arms exports in a given year,” the senior Iranian diplomat pointed out.

The United States remains the largest and growing exporter of major conventional weapons systems, according to an annual survey by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The United States accounted for 40 percent of all major arms exports during 2018–2022, up from 33 percent during 2013–2017, the report said.

The report focuses on five-year comparisons and uses its own metrics to standardize values across weapons systems platforms.

Ukraine, which in prior years barely registered on the global arms import trade chart, was the third-largest importer of the weapons systems tracked by SIPRI in 2022.

The report further highlighted that Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest importer, purchased more than three-quarters of its major weapons systems from the United States.

Within the Middle East more broadly, the United States provided 54 percent of imported major weapons systems.

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