One of the benefits of the Iranian nuclear deal — for Iran, like the rest of the benefits — was the opportunity to recapitalize its military small arms, and not just its main priorities, worldwide Islamic terrorism abroad, and nuclear weapons at home.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an independent armed service modeled on the Nazi SS, has benefited with new AK-103 rifles from Russia. The IRGC has been using the new rifles for some months now. This is an image of one of the IRGC AK-103s, presumably in 5.45 x 39 mm caliber, published by the Iranian Tasnim news agency.
In August, the same agency published this story (as translated by the AEI Critical Threats Project):
- Iran purchases assault rifles from Russia. Tasnim News Agency reported that Iran has purchased AK-103 assault rifles from Russia. According to reports, “some units” in Iran’s armed forces will be equipped with the new rifle. (Tasnim News Agency)
The original link to Tasnim’s Persian-language story no longer works. More recently, a follow-up shows that the AK-103s have been issued and are being used in training (AEI translation again):
- IRGC units use AK-103 assault rifles in “Imam Ali” exercise. Some IRGC units used “new AK-103” assault rifles during the IRGC Ground Forces’ “Imam Ali” exercises last week in western Iran. Iran purchased AK-103s from Russia in August 2016. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Dehghan stated at the time of the purchase, “Production of light arms has been low in the last ten years due to the prioritization of air and naval projects. This purchase was made due to regional crises.” (Tasnim News Agency)
This link to Tasnim works at present, but may fail soon.
Most intriguing is the suggestion that the Iranian small arms production capacity is insufficient. It may be an indicator that Iran has been starving general purpose forces as it spends lavishly on nuclear armament and terrorism promotion. It may simply mean that the vast infusion of American cash from the pro-Iranian Obama Administration allowed Iran to modernize forces across the board. Or we may be reading far too much into a routine replacement of old rifles.