Israeli attack on nuclear sites to prompt tit-for-tat: Iran

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Al Jazeera :
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has warned that it would attack Israel’s nuclear sites and may pursue a nuclear weapon if the country strikes at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The development came on Thursday, after Israeli officials promised a response to Iran’s unprecedented attacks on Israel last week, which were a retaliation for the Israeli military’s suspected targeting of Tehran’s consulate in Syria.

“The nuclear facilities of the Zionist enemy have been identified and all the necessary information from all targets is at our disposal,” the IRGC’s Brigadier General Ahmad Haghtalab was quoted as saying by Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news website.

“Our fingers are on the trigger of firing strong missiles to destroy the designated targets in response to a potential attack by them,” said the commander of the IRGC division that is tasked with protecting Iranian nuclear facilities.

Haghtalab also gave what is Iran’s highest-level and most direct warning yet that it may abandon its stated policy of refraining from building a nuclear bomb.

“If the fake Zionist regime wants to use the threat of attacking the nuclear centres of our country as a tool, reconsidering the doctrine and policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and deviating from previously stated considerations would be likely and imaginable,” he said.

Iran’s top nuclear facilities, especially the installations at Natanz in central Isfahan, have been subject to multiple significant sabotage attacks blamed on Israel amid a shadow war in more than a decade that also saw several Iranian nuclear scientists assassinated.

But Israel has never directly attacked Iranian soil, let alone its nuclear facilities.

In March 2022, after several high-profile sabotage attacks and as the IRGC said it foiled yet another attack, the new nuclear security command unit of the elite force was first publicly mentioned.

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Iran is currently enriching uranium up to 60 percent, which is a short technical step from the more than 90 percent enrichment required for an atomic bomb.

The country also possesses enough fissile material for several bombs, making it a threshold nuclear state.

But it has yet to start on further steps required to actually build a bomb, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and US intelligence assessments.

Even as Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers gradually faltered following the 2018 unilateral withdrawal by the United States, Tehran had so far said it had no plans to pursue a nuclear weapon.

The warning on Thursday comes as top Iranian political and military leaders have promised a quick and strong response if Israel decides to attack.

Hassan Abedini, an Iranian state media executive and adviser, on Thursday in a post on X published photos of meeting Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the aerospace chief of the IRGC.

According to him, Hajizadeh said the force refrained from using its main ballistic missiles during last week’s attack, including the Khorramshahr, Sajil, Haj Qassem, Kheibar Shekan-2, and the Fattah family of hypersonic missiles.

The IRGC used “minimum capability” and is ready for another significant attack, he was quoted as saying, likely in response to claims by US military officials that Iran depleted a considerable portion of its long-range ballistic missile arsenal.