Iran warns it may change nuclear weapons stance in face of Israel, US announces sanctions

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The U.S. announced a fresh set of sanctions on Iran on Thursday, targeting the production of unmanned aerial vehicles as Tehran warned Israel it would review its official stance on nuclear weapons if atomic facilities were attacked.

The latest wave of actions by the United States and Iran come on the heels of Tehran's missile and drone attack on Israel last weekend.

Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Major General Ahmad Haghtalab said in brief comments on Iranian state media that Iran would "reconsider" its nuclear policy in the event of any such attack.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is only for civilian energy purposes. When pressed, Iranian officials often point to the "fatwa" or formal religious ban on nuclear acquisition developed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, in the 1990s.

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But in remarks quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Haghtalab appeared to suggest that the country would change its formal nuclear doctrine if its nuclear facilities were directly attacked by Israel.

"The threats of the Zionist regime (Israel) against Iran's nuclear facilities make it possible to review our nuclear doctrine and deviate from our previous considerations," he said.

The Tasnim news agency is closely affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Israel has pledged to respond to Iran's attack, when more than 300 missiles and drones were fired at its territory. Israel has not indicated what form, or on what scale, the response will take.

US announces sanctions against Iran

Washington said Thursday that it was putting a bevy of new sanctions on Iranian companies over the assault.

Sanctions will hit Iranian companies involved in the manufacturing of drones, suppliers and customers of one of its largest steel producers and automobile companies tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the defense ministry.

The U.S. has designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

Iran used drones and missiles in the large-scale attack against Israel that U.S. officials say was thwarted by advanced airspace defense weaponry.

In a statement on the sanctions, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. was acting in concert with its allies "collectively to increase economic pressure on Iran" and additional sanctions are on the way from the Group of Seven nations. Biden said the U.S. would seek to "further degrade Iran’s military industries" with future sanctions.

"Let it be clear to all those who enable or support Iran’s attacks: The United States is committed to Israel’s security. We are committed to the security of our personnel and partners in the region. And we will not hesitate to take all necessary action to hold you accountable," he said.

The U.K. also imposed sanctions on Iran’s drone and ballistic missile industries.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Iran's attack a "reckless act and a dangerous escalation" of the regional conflict.

"These sanctions – announced with the U.S. – show we unequivocally condemn these behaviors, and they will further limit Iran’s ability to destabilize the region," Sunak said.

The punishing actions were announced as foreign ministers from G7 nations, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, gathered in Italy.

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UN agency warns Iran is enriching uranium

The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly said that Iran is enriching uranium at levels close to weapons-grade that would enable it to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran has repeatedly disputed this.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of a nuclear deal with Iran and other countries. The Biden administration promised to restore the 2015 agreement but has yet to make clear progress on that as his international agenda has been hijacked by the war in Gaza.

Israelis are split over what is an appropriate response to Iran's attack on April 13, according to a survey by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

According to the study, released Thursday, slightly more than half (52%) believe Israel shouldn’t respond, while 48% favor Israel responding even if it means extending the current round of the conflict with Iran.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Iran warns it may change nuclear weapons stance, US issues sanctions