The Iranian military wants to buy the advanced, fifth-generation Russian T-90 battle tank, along with a range of other major defense items, the country's top ground commander said Wednesday. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan mentioned the potential purchases during a defense conference in the Khorasan region of northern Iran, also saying that he had made an official request for new weapons to the country's top military generals.
"The talks with representatives of the Russian side have been held, and the corresponding proposal on the purchase of T-90 tanks has been transferred to the General Staff of the Islamic Republic’s Armed Forces," according to a report Wednesday by Russian state news agency Tass.
The question of possible Iranian arms deals had been a significant talking point of late, with regional rivals concerned that sanctions relief resulting from the Iranian nuclear deal would see Tehran add as much as $150 billion to its budget. The money is primarily from international oil deals that Iran couldn't access as a result of strict financial sanctions against it.
Now rivals such as Israel and Saudi Arabia believe that the money will strengthen Iran's military and its already significant grasp on the Middle East. “This deal will bring war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned during conference in August, according to a BBC report. “It will spark a nuclear arms race in the region. And it would feed Iran’s terrorism and aggression that would make war — perhaps the most horrific war of all — far more likely.”
Pourdastan also said during the conference that the military needs helicopters, heavy weaponry and advanced combat equipment. While the new requests undermine Iran's own defense industry, the ground forces commander said that the country's military industrial complex will continue to develop.
"The Iranian defense industry has strong potential. Nevertheless, we will constantly take care of modernizing it," he said.