Iranian official warns of possible shift on nuclear policy amid tensions with Israel

Kharrazi was quoted by the Student News Network as saying: “We have no decision to build a nuclear bomb, but should Iran’s existence be threatened, there will be no choice but to change our military doctrine.”

A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said Thursday that the Islamic Republic could revise its longstanding policy against developing nuclear weapons if it faces existential threats, state media reported.

The comments by Kamal Kharrazi appeared to run counter to Iran’s official nuclear doctrine established by a religious decree issued in the early 2000s forbidding the pursuit of atomic arms.

Kharrazi was quoted by the Student News Network as saying: “We have no decision to build a nuclear bomb, but should Iran’s existence be threatened, there will be no choice but to change our military doctrine.”

The remarks came hours after Syrian air defenses engaged Israeli missiles targeting sites near the capital Damascus, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA. It was the latest attack amid a shadow war between Israel and Iran playing out in Syria.

In 2021, Iran’s then-intelligence minister suggested Western pressure could spur Tehran to seek nuclear weapons, despite a fatwa, or religious edict, by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banning the development of atomic arms on religious grounds in the early 2000s.

Under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions. After then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord in 2018, Tehran steadily abandoned its commitments.

Diplomats have been struggling to revive the agreement in talks that remain stalled amid deep divides between Iran and the U.S. Iran has rapidly expanded its uranium enrichment far beyond the limits set by the deal.

Israel, which sees Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat, has launched hundreds of airstrikes on Iran-linked targets across Syria. An Israeli strike on Iran’s embassy in Damascus last month killed a senior Revolutionary Guard officer, triggering retaliatory strikes on Israeli targets.

Kharrazi’s rhetoric suggests Iran could dangle the prospect of atomic arms as leverage against perceived threats. However, any move to develop nuclear weapons would risk sparking a new crisis and potential military confrontation with Israel and Western powers.