Iran threatens change to nuclear ‘doctrine’ if Israel retaliates on nuclear sites

Iran warned Thursday that if Israel retaliates against Iranian nuclear sites, the nuclear “doctrine” in Tehran could change, in an apparent threat to begin nuclear weapons production in the event of escalation.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Brig. Gen. Ahmad Haghtalab, commander of the unit responsible for nuclear sites, issued the threat in a Thursday interview with state-run media Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) ahead of a potential Israeli counter-attack on Iran.

If Israel “intends to resort to the threat of attacking our nuclear facilities as a means to put pressure on Iran, reviewing the current doctrine and nuclear policies of the Islamic Republic and distancing from past considerations is possible and conceivable,” Haghtalab told IRNA.

The threat highlights how tensions are continuing to spiral in the aftermath of an Iranian attack on Israel last weekend.

Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones on the country, and though Israeli and allied forces shot down almost all of them, Israel has reportedly decided to retaliate for the attempted strike.

Israeli officials have not signaled how, when or where they would strike back against Iran, and officially Israel has not announced any impending action.

Iran is vowing a much harsher response should Israel retaliate. Haghtalab said Thursday that nuclear sites were protected and forces were “ready to counter any threats.”

“To respond to their possible action, we have fingers on the trigger to launch powerful missiles to destroy the identified targets,” he told IRNA.

Iran does not officially possess nuclear weapons, though Tehran has been enriching uranium at levels closer to weapons production since a nuclear deal fell apart in 2018 after former President Trump withdrew from the pact.

The deal had given Iran sanctions relief in return for Tehran not pursuing nuclear weapons, and the Biden administration pursued unofficial talks in the beginning of the administration to revive such a pact. Those talks ultimately died out.

A March Congressional Research Service report said Iran now has the capacity to build nuclear weapons at any time but has halted the process. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also warned that Iran continues to enrich uranium beyond commercial and practical use.

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