Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has criticised what he called the United Kingdom’s “utter hypocrisy” over plans to boost nuclear weapons.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the top diplomat condemned the fact that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear programme on the same day he announced the UK will increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads by 40 percent.“Unlike the UK and allies, Iran believes nukes [nuclear] and all WMDs [Weapons of Mass Destructions] are barbaric and must be eradicated,” Zarif wrote, alluding to Iran’s insistence that its nuclear programme is peaceful and not aimed at making weapons.
During an appearance at the UK House of Commons on Tuesday, Johnson said “we remain extremely concerned by Iran’s influence in the region, the disruptive behaviour of Iran and particularly, of course, we are concerned about the risk of Iran developing a viable nuclear weapon.”
The prime minister also confirmed that the UK’s cap on the number of warheads will now increase to 260, having been previously dropped to 180.
As confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, while its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a ruling (fatwa) banning nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
But Western powers have long regarded Iran’s nuclear programme with suspicion, which ultimately resulted in a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers, including the US. The landmark deal was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
But former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran.
Trump’s successor, Joe Biden has backed the deal, which was signed when Biden was the US vice president. But since he was sworn in January, Tehran and Washington have been engaged in rhetoric with Iran demanding removal of sanctions before talks to revive the deal.
In recent months, Iran has stepped up its nuclear activity with Khamenei, the country’s Supreme leader, warning Tehran could boost its enrichment of uranium from the current 20 percent to 60 percent “if the country needs it”.