Iran warns it will change nuclear doctrine if ‘existence threatened’

Adviser to Khamenei says Iran will have ‘no choice’ if nuclear facilities targeted by Israel.

Iran could be pushed into building a nuclear weapon if Israel threatens its existence, an adviser to the country’s supreme leader has warned.

“We have no decision to build a nuclear bomb but should Iran’s existence be threatened, there will be no choice but to change our military doctrine,” said Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday.

“In the case of an attack on our nuclear facilities by the Zionist regime, our deterrence will change,” he was reported as saying by Iran’s Student News Network.

The comments have raised questions about what Iran has long claimed is a peaceful nuclear programme.

Khamenei, who has the final say on the matter, banned the development of nuclear weapons in a fatwa, or religious edict, in the early 2000s, saying it is “haram”, or forbidden in Islam.

But in 2021, Iran’s then-intelligence minister said Western pressure could push the Islamic republic to seek nuclear weapons.

Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, whereas weapons-grade uranium is enriched to about 90 percent. If the current nuclear material on hand were enriched further, it would suffice for two nuclear weapons, according to an official yardstick by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Escalating threat

The shadow war between Iran and Israel erupted into open confrontation in April, after a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy compound in the Syrian capital, Damascus, which killed seven members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two generals who led the elite Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon.

Iran retaliated by launching about 300 missiles and drones against Israel.

Israel has regularly launched attacks on targets linked to Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah in Syria since 2017, increasing the frequency and intensity of strikes on the so-called “axis of resistance” since the start of its war on Gaza last October.

On Thursday, Syrian air defences shot down what the defence ministry said were Israeli missiles fired from the Golan Heights in northern Israel towards the outskirts of Damascus, targeting a building in the countryside, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

The attack, at about 3:20am (00:20 GMT), caused “some material losses”, the report said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies