Iran's former foreign minister and advisor to the Supreme Leader Kamal Kharrazi

Iran to Change Nuclear Doctrine if Sites Attacked, Says Official

Thursday, 05/09/2024

Iran will alter its nuclear doctrine if Israel threatens its nuclear facilities or its existence, an advisor to the country’s ruler said Thursday, in a second similar threat in less than a month.

“If they dare to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, our level of deterrence will change. We have experienced deterrence at the conventional level so far. If they intend to strike Iran's nuclear capabilities, naturally, it could lead to a change in Iran's nuclear doctrine,” Kamal Kharrazi said.

He added that Iran has so far refrained from developing nuclear weapons, “But if Iran's existence is threatened, we are forced to change our nuclear doctrine. Recently, military officials also stated that if Israel intends to attack nuclear facilities, reconsidering Iran's nuclear doctrine and policies, and deviating from past declarations, is possible and conceivable.”
Ali-Akbar Salehi, who was foreign minister more than a decade ago and is still a key foreign policy voice in the Iranian government, also said last month that Iran has everything it needed to build a nuclear bomb, as tensions rose with Israel amid the Gaza war.

In a televised interview in April, Salehi, was asked if Iran has achieved the capability of developing a nuclear bomb. Avoiding a direct answer he stated, "We have [crossed] all the thresholds of nuclear science and technology.”

It is believed that Israel conducted two spectacular sabotage operations in 2020 and 2021 against Iran’s large nuclear facility in Natanz, located in the center of the country.

Tehran has always insisted that its nuclear program is peaceful, and it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons. However, its actions since late 2020 point to a trajectory of escalating its nuclear threat by enriching a substantial amount of uranium to 60-percent purity, which has no civilian use.

Kharrazi's new statements are clearly designed to be a deterrence to any Israeli plans to attack its nuclear facilities. Although he also threatened a change of doctrine if Iran’s existence is threatened, any Israeli attack will most likely be aimed at valuable strategic targets, not at obliterating Iran. It is possible that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s advisor was referring to possible Israeli threats against the regime and its leaders, not the existence of Iran as a country.

Iran is seen as the main military backer of the Islamist Hamas and is suspected of having assisted the planning of the October 7 attack on Israeli civilians that killed more than one thousand people. Since then, Tehran has relentlessly supported Hamas, and has encouraged its Houthi military proxies to attack commercial shipping in the Red Sea to force Israel to back down.

Tensions led to a direct confrontation when on April 13 Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel, most of which were shot down by Israeli air defenses and the US, British and Jordanian air forces. Kharrazi expressed his pride on Thursday saying that the myth of Israeli deterrence was shattered both on October 7 and in April.

On April 18, a senior IRGC commander had also warned that Tehran could change its nuclear policies if Israel continues to threaten to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, tacitly suggesting no cooperation with world bodies and building a nuclear bomb.

“If the fake Zionist regime wants to use the threat of attacking nuclear sites to put pressure on Iran, it is possible and conceivable for the Islamic Republic to revise its nuclear doctrine and policies, and deviate from its past declared considerations,” said Ahmad Haghtalab, who oversees the security of Iran’s nuclear sites.

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