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Will Iran buy French warplanes?

With restrictions set to come off in the medium term, Iran has an even greater incentive to modernize its antiquated air force.
A group of Mirage fighter planes prepare to take off during a visit to the air force 499th wing as part of a model unit's tour organised by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, in Hsinchu, August 29, 2008.  REUTERS/Nicky Loh  (TAIWAN) - RTR21SWA

There were important security aspects to Laurent Fabius’ visit to Iran last week — the first by a French foreign minister in 12 years. After the trip, Iranian government spokesman Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht said that “France could satisfy our need for Mirage warplanes ... buying new Mirage planes is the first priority of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force [IRIAF].”

During the first Gulf War, Iran gained access to a small number of Iraqi Dassault Mirage F-1 warplanes. The aircraft were moved to Iran from fear of destruction in dogfights with more modern Western planes. Rather than returning them, Iran seized the aircraft as part of compensation for its 1980-88 war with Iraq.

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