A hardline Iranian cleric affiliated with the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said Iran has used "suicide operations" in the past and will use them again "to send its message to the world," according to a translation of his original Farsi remarks.
Iranian cleric and political leader Mehdi Taeb issued these threats as negotiations between Tehran and the West enter their final stages.
Recent Stories in National Security
Tensions between negotiators have run high in the lead up to the Nov. 24 deadline for nuclear negotiations, with Obama administration officials putting the odds of reaching a deal at "40 to 50 percent," according to sources who spoke to the New York Times.
As Iran digs in its heels over preserving its right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, the Islamic country’s hardline leaders have begun to step up their anti-American rhetoric.
Taeb, commander of the country’s hardline Ammar Garrison, admitted that Iran has utilized "suicide operations" in the past and that these types of operations will continue into the future.
The "Islamic Republic of Iran has used and will use suicide operations to send its message to the world," Taeb said, according to an independent translation of his remarks first reported in the Persian language press.
Taeb enjoys close ties with IRGC, which is known to conduct terror operations across the globe, and his brother, Hossein Taeb, serves as the IRGC’s head of intelligence.
Taeb’s Ammar Garrison is comprised of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei’s most faithful followers.
Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), explained that suicide operations are a key tool in Iran’s war against the West.
"Nowadays when we think about suicide attacks we automatically thinks of Sunni jihadists, but one should not forget it was the Islamic Republic of Iran that skillfully crafted suicide bombing as a religious weapon, popularized the concept, and made it an effective tool in fighting against infidels," Ghasseminejad said, noting that the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was carried out by such groups.
"Martyrdom, suicide bombing, and victory of blood over sword are backbones of the revolutionary version of Shi’ism on which the Islamic Republic was established and shaped," he said.
As Iranian hardliners in Khamenei’s camp line up to oppose a deal, some of Iran’s state-controlled media outlets have begun to report that the Obama administration is prepared to permit Iran to retain large portions of its nuclear infrastructure under a final deal.
"The issue of enrichment capability is no longer the main stumbling block to agreement," Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency reported on Monday, claiming that the United States has agreed to allow Iran to operate at least 6,000 nuclear centrifuges, which enrich uranium.
This number is larger than the ceiling of 4,000 centrifuges previously proposed by the administration, according to Fars.
U.S. negotiators also said European sanctions imposed on Iran’s oil exports would be fully lifted under a deal, according to the report.
However, the United States intends to keep at least some of its own sanctions on Iran in place, a position that has "elicited strong objections from the Iranian delegation," according to Fars.
Experts acquainted with Iran’s nuclear program say it is all but certain that Iran will be permitted to retain at least some portion of its enrichment program.
"Negotiations are now at a juncture at which the ideal scenario of having no enrichment or heavy water research reactor programme in Iran after any deal is increasingly unlikely," according to former International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director Olli Heinonen.
Due to this reality, it will be left to Iran to be transparent about its program going forward, Heinonen said in a recent report published by the Henry Jackson Society.
"Inspections alone are not enough however, any deal must hold Iran to a satisfactory level of irreversibility," Heinonen wrote.
Concerns also remain about Iran’s Arak heavy water nuclear reactor, which was not addressed under the interim agreement inked with Iran in the summer.
Work at Arak "has proceeded apace" and the site "is now deemed to be capable of producing sufficient weapons-grade plutonium for two nuclear weapons annually, if the reactor is completed," Heinonen wrote.