Mahmoud Alawi says Iran could reverse its nuclear program if the country was “besieged”.
The Iranian intelligence minister has warned that his country may push towards acquiring a nuclear weapon if harsh international sanctions against Tehran continue, according to state television.
Mahmoud Alawi’s remarks on Tuesday represented the rare occasion in which a government official said Iran might change course over the nuclear program.
Tehran has long insisted that the program is only for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and medical research. A fatwa in the 1990s, or religious fatwa, of the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei states that nuclear weapons are forbidden.
“Our nuclear program is peaceful, and the supreme leader’s fatwa prohibits nuclear weapons, but if they push Iran in this direction, Iran will only be guilty of those who pushed for it,” Alawi was quoted as saying.
“If a cat is trapped, it may show a kind of behavior that the free cat does not do,” he said, adding that Iran has no plans to move towards a nuclear weapon under the current circumstances.
In 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers three years earlier and re-imposed stifling economic sanctions on the Iranian economy as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.
In response, Iran began gradually violating its obligations under the landmark agreement. As part of those steps, Iran began enriching uranium near weapons levels, and said it would test uranium minerals, a key component of a nuclear warhead. Iran insists that all violations of the agreement can be reversed easily.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs in Iran, urged the United States on Sunday to lift all sanctions if it wanted Tehran to fulfill its obligations under the deal.
The United States and other Western signatories to the deal appear to be deadlocked over which side should return to the deal first, making it unlikely that the US sanctions that have shattered Iran’s economy be removed quickly.
New US President Joe Biden has openly stated that Washington will not take the first step.
Partner in killing top scholars
Alawi, the Minister of Intelligence, was also quoted as saying that a member of the Iranian armed forces “facilitated” the killing of a prominent scientist in December who led Tehran’s nuclear program, which Iran has blamed on Israel.
The minister did not clarify what he meant – it was not clear if the soldier was the one who carried out the explosion that killed the scholar Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Israel, which is suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, has repeatedly refused to comment on the attack.
It was the first time that Iran had admitted that a member of its armed forces may have acted as a partner in the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who headed the so-called Iranian AMAD program, and which Israel and the West have claimed is a military operation looking into feasibility. To build a nuclear weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency – says the “structured” program ended in 2003. US intelligence agencies agreed to this assessment in a 2007 report.
In December, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s death, saying his country would decide when or where to act of revenge.
Israel has long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and the 2015 nuclear deal imposed severe restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities to prevent it from reaching its weapons capabilities. In return, the sanctions on Iran were eased.
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