In Brief: Iran threatens to push for nuclear weapon as Biden vows tough approach 

Joe Biden. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Iran’s intelligence minister has threatened that the Islamic republic will push for a nuclear weapon if international sanctions aren’t lifted soon. Mahmoud Alavi’s warning – reported by state television today – came as Joe Biden told Tehran the US wouldn’t ease sanctions until Iran complies with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. The intelligence minister’s comments mark a rare admission by Iran that it has designs on a nuclear bomb. Instead, the regime has always insisted its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, citing a 1990s’ religious edict by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 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 suggested. “If a cat is cornered, it may show a kind of behaviour that a free cat would not,” he added.
While Biden vowed in a TV interview on Sunday that the US wouldn’t lift sanctions to bring back to the negotiating table, Khamenei also indicated that Tehran wouldn’t blink first. Insisting that the US must “abolish all sanctions”, the supreme leader said: “It is the irreversible and final decision.” The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, warned last week that Iran was currently only months away from being able to produce enough material to build a nuclear weapon, noting that the so-called “break-out” time could be cut to “a matter of weeks” if Tehran makes further violations of the 2015 deal.
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