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Iran ‘may pursue nuclear weapon if sanctions persist’

A 1990s fatwa, or religious edict, by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei states that nuclear weapons are forbidden.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Image: PA

IRAN’s INTELLIGENCE MINISTER has warned the West that his country could push for a nuclear weapon if crippling international sanctions on Tehran remain in place, state television reports.

The remarks by Mahmoud Alavi mark a rare occasion that a government official says Iran could reverse its course on the nuclear programme. Tehran has long insisted that the programme is for peaceful purposes only.

A 1990s fatwa, or religious edict, by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei states that nuclear weapons are forbidden.

“Our nuclear programme is peaceful and the fatwa by the supreme leader has forbidden nuclear weapons, but if they push Iran in that direction, then it wouldn’t be Iran’s fault but those who pushed it,” Alavi was quoted as saying.

“If a cat is cornered, it may show a kind of behaviour that a free cat would not,” he said and added that Iran has no plans to move towards a nuclear weapon under current circumstances.

The 81-year-old Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state in Iran, urged the United States on Sunday to lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to live up to commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. However, President Joe Biden has said the US will not be making the first move.

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Following the killing last December of an Iranian scientist credited with spearheading the country’s disbanded military nuclear programme, Iran’s parliament has approved a law to block international nuclear inspectors later this month – a serious violation of the accord.

Alavi, the intelligence minister, was also quoted as saying that a member of the Iranian armed forces “facilitated” the killing of the scientist, which Iran has blamed on Israel.

The minister did not expand on what he meant – and it was not clear if the soldier had carried out the explosion that killed the scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Israel, which has been suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack.

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