Hossein Salami
Hossein SalamiReuters

The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, claimed on Monday that the world knows that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, Reuters reports.

“Why do they globally sanction us about the nuclear issue when the world knows that we are not pursuing a weapon? In reality they are sanctioning us because of knowledge,” said Salami.

“Nuclear weapons have no place in Islam. Islam never approves of weapons of mass destruction,” he added.

His comments come after the Islamic Republic announced that it would expand its uranium enrichment to 5%, which is beyond the limit permitted in the 2015 deal it signed with world powers.

On Monday, Iran threatened to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity as its next potential big moves away from the agreement.

Iran’s moves are a response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 agreement last year. He subsequently imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.

Iran has threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments unless the deal's remaining partners -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- helped it circumvent US sanctions, especially to sell its oil.

Trump on Sunday said in response to Iran’s uranium enrichment, “Iran better be careful, because you enrich for one reason, and I won’t tell you what that reason is, but it’s no good. They better be careful.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, warned Iran that it would be subject to new sanctions because of its breaching of the terms of the nuclear deal.

“Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program,” tweeted Pompeo.

“Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world,” he added.