16:31 GMT28 January 2021
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    Relations between Iran and the US-Israeli alliance were already hostile in late November when they took another hit after a senior Iranian physicist was assassinated. Tehran immediately blamed Tel Aviv, and an anonymous Israeli official told US media that Israel should be “thanked” for slowing down Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme.

    Iran supports the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s ultimate goal of a “general and complete disarmament” of the world’s nuclear weapons stocks “under strict and effective international control,” Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent envoy to Vienna-based international organisations, has said.

    “We also strongly believe that stopping all explosive tests of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosions, as well as ending the quantitative development and qualitative improvement of these weapons, is the first necessary step towards nuclear disarmament,” Gharibabadi added, his comments cited by Press TV.

    The Iranian diplomat made the comments at a session of the preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a multilateral agreement signed in 1996 banning all nuclear tests in all environments for both civilian and military purposes. The treaty was signed by 184 nations, but has yet to step into force, as the United States, Israel, China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea have yet either to sign or ratify it.

    In his remarks, Gharibabadi went on to criticise the US approach to nuclear non-proliferation, fearing the US could resume nuclear-testing activities, thereby undermining international peace and security.

    The United States carried out its last nuclear weapons test in September 1992, nearly a year after the end of the Cold War. Earlier this year, US media reported, citing unnamed official sources, that the Trump administration was considering resuming military nuclear testing. The reports sparked concern in Russia and China, with the US House of Representatives subsequently adding a provision to the 2021 defence bill to prohibit funding for new nuclear testing.

    Iran’s Nuclear Activities

    Iran is party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and maintains that its nuclear programme is strictly civilian in nature. The Islamic Republic has repeatedly slammed the US and its Israeli allies over their ‘expressions of concern’ about Iran’s nuclear activities, suggesting the two countries have no right to criticise Iran over a non-existent nuclear weapons programme while they themselves have access to vast arsenals of nukes.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have repeatedly accused Tehran of harbouring ambitions to build a nuclear bomb, and have waged a partially clandestine, partially public campaign of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and severe sanctions to try to ‘stop’ alleged efforts in this direction. The Islamic Republic says it has no intention of pursuing nuclear weapons, or weapons of mass destruction of any kind, with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei saying such weapons contradict the tenants of Shia Islam.

    On 27 November, Iranian physicist and rocket scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in a daylight roadside attack on his vehicle about 175km east of Tehran. Iran immediately blamed Israel for the assassination and threatened revenge. The Israeli government made no official comment on the matter, but took measures to brace itself for retaliation. At the same time, an anonymous Israeli official told the New York Times that Israel should be “thanked” for the killing, claiming Fakhrizadeh was the head of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

    Trump's special representative for Iran and Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, has gone on record praising Israel for “the right to defend itself” with the Fakhrizadeh killing, repeating Israeli claims that “no one knew more” about Iran’s alleged nuclear activities than the scientist, and suggesting his “departure” (ie murder) would “slow them down".

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of killing Fakhrizadeh in an attempt to destabilise the region and provoke a war with Iran in the final days of Donald Trump’s “ill-fated” presidency. Rouhani indicated that Iran didn’t respond because of the importance it puts in regional stability, but also warned that Tehran reserves the right to retaliate at a time and place of its choosing.

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