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Iranian press review: Lawmaker suggests Tehran is ready for nuclear weapon testing

Meanwhile, a teacher was sentenced to 11 years for teaching Kurdish language, and anger boils over the rich buying private jets
A man walks past a banner depicting missiles along a street in Tehran on 19 April 2024 (AFP)

Officials hint at potential shift in nuclear stance

Iranian military commanders and high-ranking officials have warned they could change their approach in developing the country’s nuclear programme after increasing tensions with Israel, implicitly announcing their readiness to take it into a military phase.

Before the recent direct military confrontation with Israel, Iran had always insisted that its nuclear programme solely had peaceful goals. This stance dramatically changed in recent weeks.

Javad Karimi Qudousi, a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, on Monday implicitly claimed that Iran was only one week away from its first nuclear weapon test. 

The lawmaker wrote on X: "If the order is issued, it will be one week before the first test." 

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Karimi Qudousi did not mention Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but such an order would come from supreme leader who has a final say in all matters in Iran.

On Tuesday, in two videos posted on X, he stressed that the targets of Iran’s potential military nuclear programme would not only be Israel but also European countries supporting Tel Aviv.

Moreover, hours after the Israeli attack on an air force base in Isfahan last Friday, Ahmad Haqtalab, the commander of the Nuclear Centers Protection and Security Corps, suggested the same idea. 

"It is possible and conceivable to revise the nuclear doctrine and policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran and deviate from previous considerations," he was quoted as saying.

On Monday, the Javan daily, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), highlighted Haqtalab’s remarks, adding "Israel has taken this threat seriously and retreated from their [aggressive] stances.”

Teacher given 11 years for teaching Kurdish language

A teacher in the Kurdish regions of Iran has been handed an 11-year prison sentence by the Islamic Revolutionary Court for his role in establishing a cultural centre where the Kurdish language was taught, local media reported.

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Soma Pourmohammadi, a Kurdish language educator and a board member of the Nozhin cultural and social organisation in Sanandaj, received the lengthy sentence along with exile in two separate cases. 

According to the verdict delivered on Saturday, he was convicted of "forming groups and factions with the intention of disrupting the security of the country" and given a 10-year prison term and exile to Kermanshah prison. 

Prior to this ruling, another court had sentenced Pourmohammadi to one year suspended imprisonment for "disturbance of public order".

The Nozhin Social-Cultural Association, an independent cultural group, has been actively engaged in various cultural endeavours over recent years, including conducting free Kurdish language classes in different Kurdish cities.

Despite several languages such as Kurdish, Turkish, and Balouchi being spoken in different parts of Iran, Farsi remains the country's only official language. 

Private jet imports spark controversy

While government authorities have banned the import of many goods, such as expensive mobile phones, due to the economic crisis, the import of private jets has become the centre of public attention.

Focus on the issue began when the head of the Civil Aviation Organisation, Mohammad Mohammadi Bakhsh, told the Ilna news agency: "The purchase and sale of seven-seater jet planes is open to the public. Many people are currently utilising this option, including businessmen, officials, sports teams, and economic teams."

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The announcement sparked a widespread backlash in local media, with both reformist and conservative outlets criticising it. 

On Monday, the pro-reformist daily Etemad published an article under the headline: "Goods for those who are better than us," questioning why the purchase and sale of private jets was permitted for a select class amid the country’s economic crisis.

"Why, in the current tight currency situation where many goods are categorised as 'luxury' and importation is prohibited, is the purchase and sale of private jets unrestricted for a privileged few? This perpetuates inequality in society," said the daily.

The newspaper also demanded transparency, urging authorities to disclose the names of individuals who own private jets.

Rokna, another Farsi-language media outlet, characterised the publication of this news as emblematic of the profound social class divide. 

"While the purchase and sale of jet aircraft has been liberalised, the general public lacks the means to afford even a domestic car," Rokna highlighted.

*Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.