Iran to revise strategy based on nuclear power projects in the region

Tehran claims nuclear power projects in the region endanger security

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran speaks during the first meeting of national security secretaries of Afghanistan, China, Iran, India and Russia, in the Iranian capital Tehran on September 26, 2018. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)
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A senior Iranian security official on Wednesday accused regional powers of spending money on "suspicious nuclear projects" and warned that such threats would force Tehran to revise its defence strategy.

Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, did not name the countries — but a proposed transfer of US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia has raised concerns in Tehran.

Regional powers and the US say Iran's own nuclear programme is a threat to global security. Despite the EU's support of Iran's nuclear programme, many European countries have condemned Iran's expansion of its missile programme, particularly its ballistic missiles. Tehran claims the programme provides deterrent capabilities and is defensive.

Iran has also said its atomic work is entirely peaceful, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a religious decree against the development of nuclear weapons.

Rising power consumption and desalination costs are pushing Saudi Arabia to also look at nuclear energy. The world’s top crude exporter currently burns oil to generate most of its power and provide drinking water. Pivoting towards nuclear would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and free up more crude to sell on world markets.

In February, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced a legislation to ensure congressional oversight of any civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Under the Saudi Nuclear Proliferation Act, Congress would be required to approve any pacts authorising US companies to sell nuclear power technologies to the kingdom.

In 2018, it invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to reviews the kingdom’s plans to nuclearise.

Although unfounded, as officially Saudi Arabia must abide to the non-proliferation agreement, Iran accuses “some countries in the region” of suspicious projects.

“Some countries in the region are spending their petrodollars on suspicious nuclear projects that can endanger the security of the region and the world," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran signed the non-proliferation treaty. However, Israel, along with Pakistan, India and South Sudan, have refused to sign the deal – making it the only country in the region violating the nuclear-weapon-free zone, a UN agreement with a group of states that freely imposes a ban on nuclear use.

"New threats like this will force us to revise our strategy based on the nature and geography of new threats, and predict the requirements of our country and armed forces," he added.

Animosity between Washington and Tehran — bitter foes since the 1979 Islamic revolution — has intensified since US President Donald Trump withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Tehran last May and reimposed sanctions lifted under the accord.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US last month of hypocrisy for trying to wreck Iran’s nuclear programme while seeking to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, Tehran's regional rival.