Note on Ayatollah Khamenei’s so-called “Nuclear Fatwa”

... an unhealthy complacency should not set in on how we view Ayatollah Khamenei’s so-called “nuclear fatwa”.

Note on Ayatollah Khamenei’s so-called “Nuclear Fatwa” | June 3, 2012
By Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

I find it most curious that some Western commentators believe that Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa is “well-documented”. There has been plenty written about it certainly, but I have never seen the fatwa itself written down per se or even appropriately documented in either official or unofficial literature.

Except for Mehdi Khalaji’s excellent piece in the WINEP policy brief, “Nuclear Fatwa: Religion and Politics in Iran’s Proliferation Strategy”, nothing all that serious on the subject has been written in either English or Persian, as far as I know.

Here is the link to Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji’s report:

Oral and written fatwas have historically had an equal weighting, but all I have seen are certain declarations and denials by Ayatollah Khamenei in Friday prayer sermons, and various other speeches.

For instance, here:

Bayanat dar khotbe-ha-ye namaz jom’eh-ye Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 5 November 2004,


Bayanat dar didar-e daneshgahiyan-e semnan, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 6 November 2006,

And finally, and perhaps the best illustration, Ayatollah Khamenei’s address to the supposedly first nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation conference held in Tehran in April 2010:

Payam be nakhostin konforans-e beynolmellali-ye khal’-e selah-e haste’i va adam-e esha’eh, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 16 April, 2010,

There are other examples, but these are adequate illustrations. To be fair in these statements, Ayatollah Khamenei declares the use of nuclear weapons to be “haram” (religiously unlawful), but it is questionable whether they actually amount to a fatwa.

There are other examples, but these are adequate illustrations.

We should not forget that these speeches are the speeches of the highest political authority in the land, and the speeches of a man who stands at the helm of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council when it comes to the nuclear issue. Mixing and matching his “political” and “religious” authority is a recipe for troublesome and muddled conclusions.

I would say that such political declarations, insofar as they are declarations and not formal juridical rulings, make it costly for the IRI to overturn the publicly stated position not to pursue a nuclear capability. I say this because, obviously Ayatollah Khamenei has repeatedly stated that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, and various members of the IRI elite e.g. Sadeq Larijani, head of the judiciary, and Ali Akbar Salehi, the current Foreign Minister, to name but a few, have publicly acknowledged the existence of Khamenei’s fatwa and declaimed that it carries the highest authority.

Dr. Hassan Rowhani, former chief of the Supreme National Security Council, similarly has come out in a recent interview, which I previously wrote a short post on, stating, “This fatwa is more important to us than the NPT and its Additional Protocol, more important than any other law.”

Such statements because they have been publicly made and reiterated in the forum of world public opinion, obviously foist the IRI leadership, in the event it decides to develop a nuclear weapons capability, into a corner of sorts. In short, the IRI is to some extent constrained because of the amount of political capital and credibility invested and banked for the sake of convincing the international community that its programme is for strictly civilian purposes. Therefore, a reversal or violation of such public declarations would prove costly. However, the IRI has borne many and some very heavy costs before, and has concealed its enrichment activities from the international community in the past. The memoir of former IAEA chief, Mohammad Elbaradei, “The Age of Deception”, provides a good overview of the IRI’s past mendacity in this regard, and Elbaradei isn’t someone who can be easily accused of being inveterately hostile to the Islamic Republic.

This post is merely attempting to convey the point that an unhealthy complacency should not set in on how we view Ayatollah Khamenei’s so-called “nuclear fatwa”.

Read the rest of the piece here.

Tags: , , , ,

Dave Siavashi is the Founder and Editor of Iran News Now. He provided coverage of breaking news and analysis on events in Iran during the unrest that followed the 2009 presidential election. One of the early journalists to use social media effectively to report on breaking events, his tweets and articles have been cited in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Christian Science Monitor, Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish and publications.
  • Bojan Magomadov

    Actually once a liar always a liar – take a look at this one on Khamenei lies :
    Nuclear Fatwa: Truth or Lie?  Taking
    #Iran’s leader to polygraphist

  • Konstantin A

    Great work Bojan, do not know for sure is it yours or just repost. Anyways the whole mimics of Khamenei screams, DO NOT LISTEN TO ME – I AM LYING

  • Dolo B

    all what we  see here we dont believe here in Germany.Nuclear Fatwa from Khamenei pressure for war in the world and lie about nuclear weapons…We have peacefull houses and minds. 

  • Arso

    u just don’t get it… He says getting a nuclear weapon will not help protect Iran? And if u can’t see the logic in that, its the propaganda that is making u so illogical! He says there are those even near Iran that have many of these arsenals, and USA has thousands of them, so how can one protect us? That’s the logic, and as far as human part of it, he says according to Islamic law weapons of mass destruction are not permitted? Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where we dropped the Bomb, thousands of people were burned to death??? He says according to Islamic rules we can not make weapons that kill and destroy the environment so indiscriminately???  So maybe a little too much Fox news for u ? even though Iran bashing is very popular! After all we got to have a war going some where… And who better than those bad rag headed Muslim Iranians?? 

A Brave New Documentary by NBC News – #TwitterDiplomacy: The Making of a Nuclear Deal (Preview)

A brave new documentary by the fantastic team at NBC News. Here is a preview posted to YouTube by Ann [...]...

Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey and Iran President Hassan Rouhani Exchange Tweets on Net Freedom in Iran

Twitter has completely changed the way people of influence communicate with each and with their audiences, in conversations that take [...]...

How Diplomacy with Iran will Improve Iran’s Human Rights Situation

The possible diplomacy of a moderate president like Rouhani can be a catalyst for human rights and systematic change, but it cannot be do...

Journalist yells “Remember, Mousavi must be present!” at President-Elect Rouhani live press conference

It was bound to happen. President-elect Dr. Hassan Rouhani ran on a campaign of hope and prudence, and on June [...]...

Exclusive: Iran News Now’s Conversation with Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s New President: “Govt of hope and prudence seeks to eliminate gaps between our people, create conditions for improved atmosphere”

Dr. Hassan Rouhani has just officially won the 2013 Iran presidential election. He is now officially President Hassan Rouhani of [...]...

Live-blog: Iran Election 2013 – Voting Day, Round One. Will it be a “Political Epic”?

This is a live-blog covering the first day of the 2013 Iran Presidential Election. We will provide coverage throughout the [...]...