Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is warning that the West cannot stop his country from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Speaking Sunday during a tour of Iran’s nuclear project, Khamenei said, “On the basis of our Islamic ideals, we do not want nuclear weapons,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
“But if this wasn’t the case, they would not be able to prevent us from doing so, just like they could not prevent our nuclear advancements so far,” he added.
Khamenei urged Iranian officials not to comply with “excessive and false demands” from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying that a 2020 law passed by Iran’s parliament – in which the country would suspend the IAEA’s inspections of its nuclear activity and increase uranium enrichment if sanctions are not lifted – should be respected, Reuters reported.
“This is a good law… which must be respected and not violated in providing access and information (to the IAEA),” Reuters quoted Khamenei as saying.
He also said a deal with the West over Iran’s nuclear work is possible if its nuclear infrastructure remains untouched, Reuters reported.
But Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow and Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital that “Khamenei’s comments on any potential nuclear agreement have no meaning sans context.
“He is not interested in making Iran a responsible nuclear stakeholder nor is he enthralled with the idea of a deal,” Taleblu added. “It is all about retaining Iran’s atomic infrastructure as much as possible and by any means possible.”
The IAEA closed two investigations into Iran’s nuclear program around the start of June as part of the negotiations seeking a reinstallation of monitoring equipment.
The IAEA was working to reinstate monitoring equipment that Iran had ordered removed after withdrawing from its 2015 nuclear deal, but the organization has only put a slim amount of equipment in place.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant condemned the move, offering an ominous warning that Israel may have to take actions of its own.
“The dangers facing the State of Israel are increasing, and we may be required to fulfill our duty in order to protect the integrity of Israel and especially the future of the Jewish people,” he said at the time. “The tasks are heavy and the challenges are great. The reality in which we find ourselves is complex, but the State of Israel, the IDF and all the security agencies, will know what to do to ensure Israel’s security in the present and in the future.”
The IAEA’s actions came as a top Iranian general announced that the country was ramping up efforts to export weapons, military equipment and training to its allies in both the Middle East and across the globe.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom, and Yonat Friling contributed to this report.