"The Supreme Leader first issued an oral nuclear fatwa in 2003, and he has repeated it in numerous speeches since then. These pronouncements, which use a religious idiom to describe nuclear weapons as “forbidden” (haram), have the same legal standing as written fatwas.
The precise formulations used in these pronouncements have varied. Khamenei has at times categorically forbidden the development, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons. On other occasions, he appeared to tacitly permit their development and stockpiling, but not use. When addressing a group of top scientists on October 9, 2019, he stated, “Although we could have taken this path [of producing a nuclear weapon], we decided not to…based on Islam’s verdict; it is wrong to make it and it is wrong to stockpile it because it is forbidden to use it.”
Notably, both the initial fatwa and early Iranian efforts to highlight it followed not long after the discovery and public disclosure of the regime’s clandestine nuclear enrichment program in 2002. These efforts should therefore be seen, at least in part, as damage control. The fatwa has been used for other purposes as well:
- To legitimize the nuclear program as a strictly peaceful activity via religious justification
- To deflect potential domestic criticism for the program’s slow progress, its numerous setbacks, and the regime’s decision to eschew a rapid breakout
- To help the regime promote revolutionary Islam as a coequal system of international legitimacy alongside international law, as expressed through proposals in 2013 to get the fatwa enshrined in a UN resolution."
I would agree with the authors that Iran can be negotiated with and that the ideological shine has gone off the apple with regard to Iran's revolutionary fervor. National interests, real or imagined, are probably paramount priorities now.
What I would not agree with or support is the notion that Iran must be made into a land locked country devoted to the cultivation of pistachios and the weaving of fine carpets. This is the Israeli policy position which WINEP, an arm of AIPAC, supports.
This is one area in which I can be persuaded to think that Blinken/Harris/Biden would be right in returning to JCPOA.
I wonder if anyone has had a go at explaining all this to Harris. pl