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Iran vows to respond in kind if Biden targets nuclear program

Natanz nuclear facility Iran
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei inspects the centrifuges enriching uranium to bomb-grade potency. Photo: Getty
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Apparently emboldened by America’s humiliation in Afghanistan, a top Iranian security official has accused President Joe Biden of illegally threatening Iran after he said he may consider other options if nuclear diplomacy with Tehran fails.

“The emphasis on using ‘other options’ against (Iran) amounts to threatening another country illegally and establishes Iran’s right to reciprocate … against ‘available options’,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said on Twitter.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in White House talks on Friday he was putting “diplomacy first” to try to rein in Iran’s nuclear program, but that if negotiations fail he would be prepared to turn to other unspecified options.

These could range from restoring some or all of the Trump administration’s economic sanctions to military action.

The UN nuclear weapons watchdog revealed in a report released this month that Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade, a move raising tensions with the West as both sides insist they seek to resume talks on reviving the nuclear deal with Tehran struck during the Obama years. .

The indirect US-Iranian talks in Vienna have been on hold since the last round ended on June 20 as Iran’s new government under hardline President Ebrahim Raisi prepared to take over.

‘No different’ from Trump

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Saturday likened the Biden administration’s approach to the nuclear accord to that of former president Donald Trump, who withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

“The current US administration is no different from the previous one because it demands in different words what Trump demanded from Iran in the nuclear area,” state television quoted Khamenei as saying in his first meeting with Raisi’s cabinet.

Trump’s withdrawal from the accord aimed to pressure Iran into negotiating stricter curbs on its nuclear programme, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.

Tehran rejected Washington’s demands, enduring a severely damaged economy until the Biden administration loosened sanctions.

-with AAP