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Iran may reverse fatwa banning nukes if Israel, US act dangerously: ex-official

Former Iranian diplomat says the Islamic legal opinion issued in 2003 ‘might be changed’ and Biden could be forced back into nuclear deal ‘with no preconditions’

An Iranian flag flutters at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant on November 10, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
An Iranian flag flutters at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant on November 10, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

A former Iranian diplomat has said that if Israel or the US take “dangerous” steps, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may reverse the religious opinion that forbids the acquisition, development or use of nuclear weapons.

Speaking during a January interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV, ex-Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi said, “A fatwa is issued in accordance with developing circumstances. Therefore, I believe that if the Americans and Zionists act in a dangerous manner, the fatwa might be changed,” according to a translation published this week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The fatwa, a nonbinding Islamic legal opinion, issued in 2003, says that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are against Islam.

Former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi (MEMRI screenshot)

Mousavi added that former US president Barack Obama “was forced to sign the nuclear agreement with Iran” following the downing of an American UAV by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 2011, and allegedly because “he strived to win the Nobel prize.”

In this photo released on March 20, 2020 by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei poses for a portrait prior to delivering his message for the Iranian New Year, or Nowruz, in Tehran, Iran (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

With the new US administration, Mouvasi claims, “Iran is holding some significant cards, which it can use to force President [Joe] Biden to return [to the JCPOA] with no preconditions,” adding that “the Iranian leadership is not in a hurry.”

“As the Americans delay carrying out their obligations and lifting the sanctions, Iran will further develop its nuclear and defensive capabilities. I believe that the international community is the one that stands to lose and not Iran,” Mousavi said.

The United States and Iran are “a long way” from a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday.

Price said US President Joe Biden has been “very clear” that “if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the [deal], the United States would do the same, and then we would then use that as a platform to build a longer and a stronger agreement that also addresses other areas of concern.”

Iranian Deputy Forein Minister Abbas Araghchi (Center-R) and Helga Schmid (Center-L), secretary general of the European Union’s External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019, at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. (Alex Halada/AFP)

The United Nations’ nuclear agency said Iran has continued to ramp up its nuclear program in recent weeks by further enriching uranium and installing new centrifuges at its underground Natanz plant, according to a Tuesday report.

In January, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said he has directed the military to prepare fresh operational plans to strike Iran to block its nuclear program.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank’s annual conference on January 26, 2021. (Screen capture/INSS)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Israel was still keeping open the possibility of taking action against Tehran’s nuclear project if necessary.

A Likud minister close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the US would never attack Iran’s nuclear program, and Israel would have to decide whether to launch such a strike alone or come to terms with a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic.

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