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Iranian Politician Says Tehran Might Already Have Nukes

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Iran might already possess a nuclear weapon, an insider politician in Tehran said on Friday, after remarks by a senior foreign policy figure the day before about a possible change in nuclear policy.

Ahmad Bakhshayesh Ardestani, re-elected to parliament in March, conveyed to the Rouydad 24 website his belief that Iran’s decision to risk attacking Israel in April stemmed from its possession of nuclear weapons.

Moreover, he drew attention to remarks by Kamal Kharrazi, senior foreign policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Thursday, who said that Tehran will change its nuclear doctrine if Israel attacks its atomic facilities. For years, the Islamic Republic has insisted that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, despite enriching uranium to 60-percent purity, which can only have a weaponization purpose.

“In my opinion, we have achieved nuclear weapons, but we do not announce it. It means our policy is to possess nuclear bombs, but our declared policy is currently within the framework of the JCPOA. The reason is that when countries want to confront others, their capabilities must be compatible, and Iran’s compatibility with America and Israel means that Iran must have nuclear weapons,” Ardestani was quoted as saying.

Lawmaker Ahmad Bakhshayesh Ardestani

Clearly putting Iran in the same trench as Russia, Ardestani added, “In a climate where Russia has attacked Ukraine and Israel has attacked Gaza, and Iran is a staunch supporter of the Resistance Front, it is natural for the containment system to require that Iran possess nuclear bombs. However, whether Iran declares it is another matter.”

The conservative politician, hailing from Isfahan Province, representing a district close to the Natanz nuclear facility, is a trusted regime figure, because he was allowed to run and win in the tightly orchestrated March parliamentary elections.

Ardestani, 63, has served in the government in various capacities since his youth from the early 1980s, and was a close ally of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is not clear if he is a member of the hardliner Paydari party, dominating the newly elected parliament, but he also served a four-year term from 2012-2016 as an Ahmadinejad supporter. He is known as a foreign policy expert who managed foreign students sent abroad by the government.

On Thursday, Kamal Kharrazi was quoted by the semi official ISNA news website as saying, “If they [Israel] 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.”

Kharrazi’s statement seemed 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.

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.

“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.