Iran Leader: If We Wanted Nukes, ‘No One Would Have Been Able to Stop Us’

Iran tells the world one thing on its nuclear program and does another. Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Sunday issued an ominous boast that if his country had wanted to develop nuclear weapons, the world would not have been able to stop them—and won’t be able to do so. Ironically, this was in the context of his claims that Iran cannot have nukes due to their religious beliefs.

In excerpts from his speech posted to the Khamenei Twitter page, the Iranian leader said, “We’re not pursuing nuclear weapons due to our Islamic principles. Otherwise, if we had wished to pursue them, no one would have been able to stop us, just as they haven’t been able to stop our nuclear development up until now and won’t be able to do so in the future.”

Khamenei’s fiery comments come as his nation and the international community remain in a stalemate over efforts to resurrect the collapsed nuclear accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The deal exchanged sanctions relief and economic benefits to Iran for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite years of failed negotiations around resuming the JCPOA, Khamenei on Sunday said his nation remains open to a nuclear deal. However, according to a report on the Fars News Agency recapping Sunday’s speech, Khamenei said that a new deal must not include the destruction of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, presumably including their underground nuclear fuel production facility. “The infrastructure must remain intact. They must not be harmed,” Khamenei was quoted as saying. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had his own comments on Sunday about a potential Iran nuclear deal as he recapped what he told United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken last Thursday. “I reiterated our consistent position, that returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran will not stop the Iranian nuclear program and will only enable Iran to channel funds to the terrorist organizations that it sponsors in the Middle East and around Israel’s borders,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying in an Israeli press release.

Issuing his own veiled threat, Netanyahu hinted at efforts to strike Iran’s nuclear program. “I reiterated that no arrangement with Iran will be binding on Israel,” he said. “With or without an agreement, we will continue to do whatever is necessary to defend the State of Israel.”

Khamenei’s repeated claims that his country prohibits the development of nuclear weapons have been repeatedly contradicted by steps taken to develop nuclear capabilities that have limited or no civilian use, and they were proven outright false by Iran’s own nuclear records uncovered by Israel in 2018. Furthermore, the funds awarded to Iran as part of the original JCPOA ultimately helped the Islamic Republic sponsor terrorism and launch proxy wars across the Middle East. Even today, Iran’s nefarious influence extends well beyond its borders.

On Friday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she is “gravely concerned by the growing military cooperation between Russia and Iran” in the war in Ukraine. In comments published by her office, she highlighted Iran’s provision of UAVs to Russia have been used to “kill and terrorize Ukrainian civilians”. She called for a UN investigation into Iran sending Russia “hundreds” of UAVs, which violates the UN resolution restricting weapons transfers from Iran.

“There is an urgent need for [UN Secretary-General António Guterres] to respond to calls from the international community to investigate these violations,” she was quoted as saying. “Doing so could save lives.” 

(By Joshua Spurlock,, June 11, 2023)

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