US President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, on January 21 2020. Picture: AFP/JIM WATSON
US President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos, on January 21 2020. Picture: AFP/JIM WATSON

Dubai — An Iranian lawmaker has offered a $3m reward to anyone who kills US President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms, ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday amid Tehran’s latest stand-off with Washington.

Tension has steadily escalated since Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers in 2018 and re-imposed US sanctions. The stand-off erupted into tit-for-tat military strikes in January.

“On behalf of the people of Kerman province, we will pay a $3m reward in cash to whoever kills Trump,” lawmaker Ahmad Hamzeh told the 290-seat parliament, ISNA reported. He did not say if the idea of a reward had any official backing from Iran’s clerical rulers.

The city of Kerman, in the province south of the capital, is the hometown of Qassem Soleimani, a prominent Iranian commander whose killing in a drone strike in Baghdad ordered by Trump on January 3 prompted Iran to fire missiles at US targets in Iraq.

“If we had nuclear weapons today, we would be protected from threats ... We should put the production of long-range missiles capable of carrying unconventional warheads on our agenda. This is our natural right,” he was quoted by ISNA as saying.

The US and its Western allies have long accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran insists it has never sought nuclear arms and never will, saying its nuclear work is for research and to master the process to generate electricity.

The 2015 nuclear agreement as a whole was designed to increase the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb if it wanted one — the main obstacle to producing a nuclear weapon — from about two or three months.

Under the deal, Iran received sanctions relief in return for curbing its nuclear activities. In response to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact and pressure from US sanctions, Iran has gradually rolled back its commitments to the nuclear deal.

In January, Iran announced it was scrapping all limits on its uranium enrichment work, potentially shortening the so-called “breakout time” needed to build a nuclear weapon. Reports issued by the UN nuclear watchdog have suggested Tehran is still far from sprinting ahead with its work.

After its latest move to step away from compliance with the deal, European countries Britain, France and Germany triggered a dispute mechanism in the pact, starting a diplomatic process that could lead to re-imposing UN sanctions.

Iran said on Monday that Tehran would pull out from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if international sanctions were re-imposed on the country. The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War.