EDITOR'S NOTE: Iran's state media recently released a video warning the US that it can quickly weaponize its “peaceful” nuclear capabilities and produce a bomb that can turn New York City into “ruins.” Sure, the message is intended to shock. But the real message may be in the decision process that led to the message rather than in the message itself. We can only speculate on the chain of decisions that went into the production of the video. It makes you wonder, why does Iranian media feel it necessary to produce such a message now? What was the positive payoff it was hoping to achieve, and what risks did it have to consider before deciding to release such an alarming statement? Are we talking about a handful of nuclear missiles versus America’s 3,708? Certainly, Russia’s 4,477 or China’s 350 nuclear stockpile is of greater concern. But Iran’s media is essentially saying: we can destroy our entire country in order to turn your one city into ruins. The risk-to-reward payoff doesn’t really make sense. Iran knows it. So, it makes you wonder what’s really happening.
Iranian state media said in a new video that the country has the ability "to turn New York into ruins and hell in case of a hostile act by the U.S." using its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are designed to deliver nuclear weapons.
The video, which was translated to English and shared on Twitter on Sunday by M. Hanif Jazayeri, detailed Iran's purported capability to quickly "turn Iran's peaceful nuclear program into a nuclear weapons program in an instant, and turn the West and Israel's nightmare into a reality." It also said that there is a secretive underground facility in Fordow, Iran, that would activate what the video described as a "nuclear deterrent project" known as the Emad Project.
"This center is the guarantor of Iran's nuclear force, and it has all the necessary infrastructure needed for a nuclear deterrent," the video's narrator said, according to Jazayeri's translation. Jazayeri said that the video was initially shared on Saturday by the state media.
Iran's IRGC-affiliated state media announce in a new video that the regime is now able to quickly build nuclear bombs & its ICBMs can "turn New York into ruins and hell"
Will US & EU finally reactivate the 6 UN Security Council resolutions?
VIDEO with English subtitles ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/q9ZPstB20a
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) July 31, 2022
The state media's video on Iran's nuclear capabilities came the day before Iran's nuclear chief said that the country has the means to produce an atomic bomb, but does not intend to do so, according to an Iranian new agency, which Reuters reported Monday. This reaffirmed comments that were made last month by Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb but there has been no decision by Iran to build one," Kharrazi said at the time, according to Radio Free Europe.
The nuclear video came from Bisimchimedia, linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which was added to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2019 under former President Donald Trump's administration. President Joe Biden opted in May to keep the group on the list, according to news reports and former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The IRGC operates parallel to Iran's conventional military, but has become an institution "with vast political, economic and military power" since it was founded after Iran's 1979 revolution, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
World powers have yet to officially revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, under which the country agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear program and make its facilities more available for global inspections in exchange for relief from sanctions, according to the CFR. Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Iran responded on Sunday to a proposal from a European Union diplomat looking to salvage the agreement, saying that it was seeking a quick resolution to the negotiations, but did not provide much insight into its position on the matter, Reuters reported.
Newsweek reached out to Iran's Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department for comment.
Update 8/1/2022, 4:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated to verify the date that the video was originally shared.
Originally published on Newsweek.