Iran warns it will be forced to change its nuclear doctrine if existence is threatened

Israel has repeatedly targeted Iran’s nuclear facilities accusing it of making bomb despite the supreme leader of the Islamic republic ruling such option out by calling it un-Islamic

May 13, 2024 by Abdul Rahman

The head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations (SCFR) and an advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Kamal Kharrazi, told Al Jazeera that his country would be forced to change its nuclear doctrine if its existence is threatened.

Kharrazi, who is also a former foreign minister of the country, warned that if Israel tries to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities or damages them in any way Tehran will have to develop the next level of deterrence, hinting at a change in the policy of not developing nuclear arsenal.

Iran has been subjected to various unilateral sanctions by the US and other countries which have accused it of having a clandestine nuclear program despite Iran being a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran has also been subjected to one of the most stringent surveillance regimes by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran was also subjected to the UN sanctions for almost a decade over its nuclear program. The international sanctions were lifted in 2016 following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the US and five other countries, the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia. The JCPOA allowed Iran to have its peaceful nuclear program with certain restrictions and under IAEA surveillance. However, following the unilateral withdrawal of the US under president Donald Trump in 2018, the US has re-imposed various unilateral sanctions on Iran.

Iran has since then gone back on some of its obligations under the JCPOA. It has already been enriching uranium at 60% percent purity since the failure of the US to lift sanctions and breakdown in talks to revive the JCPOA in 2022.

Despite the setbacks in the JCPOA and unilateral sanctions, Iran has maintained that it has no plan to develop a nuclear bomb. Khamenei had even issued a “fatwa” in early 2000s claiming nuclear bombs are “haram” or forbidden in Islam. He has repeatedly maintained that line. However, Israel and the US have continued to loudly condemn an alleged clandestine nuclear bomb program in Iran.

Kharrazi too reiterated Iran’s claims that his country has not decided to develop nuclear bombs yet. However, he acknowledged that Iran has the capacity to develop it anytime.

Iran has often accused Israel of carrying out terrorist operations in the country to sabotage its peaceful nuclear program. Israel has been accused of assassinating some of Iran’s prominent nuclear scientists as well.

Israel has also repeatedly threatened it will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities calling it an “existential threat.” There is a precedent of Israel attacking Iraqi nuclear facilities in 1981.

The tensions between Iran and Israel have risen in recent months since the Israeli war in Gaza. Accusing Iran of helping Hamas and other resistance groups in the region who have stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people and attacked Israel and US assets, Israel bombed the Iranian consulate building in Damascus in Syria on April 1 killing seven commanders of Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Corp (IRGC).

Iran retaliated in response to the Israeli attacks on its diplomatic mission in Syria on April 13 targeting several of its military bases. Israel launched a low intensity attack against Iran in the following week and has since hyped the rhetoric of further attacks against it.

Israel is not a signatory of the NPT and its nuclear weapons have not been subjected to any international scrutiny. Israel was responsible for attacking Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981.