US President Barack Obama gave a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in which he said that a final nuclear deal with Iran was close to completion.
Obama reference a fatwa of Ayatollah Khamenei’s prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons under his interpretation of Islamic law. Yet Obama failed to mention that Iran is governed with the principle of expediency, elevating the interests of the state to a religious duty. Under Iran’s theocratic system realpolitik can override religious considerations as and when the Supreme Leader decides.
Furthermore, according to Iranian experts from the Washington Institute for Near East policy “fatwas are issued in response to specific circumstances and can be altered in response to changing conditions. Ayatollah Khomeini modified his position on a number of issues during his lifetime—for instance, on taxes, military conscription, women’s suffrage, and monarchy as a form of government. Thus nothing would prevent Khamenei from modifying or supplanting his nuclear fatwa should circumstances dictate a change in policy.”
Regardless of the existence of such a fatwa, it can be changed or overruled at any time.
The president stated that the P5+1 is “presenting to them [Iran] a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
This is despite the fact that four prominent nuclear experts said at the beginning of February that Iran should already be regarded as a nuclear weapons state.
“The fact of Iran's ICBM capability and their proximity to nuclear weapons necessitates that Iran be regarded as a nuclear missile state — and as a menace to the entire world — right now,” they wrote.
The four experts are:
· Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative;
· Fritz Ermarth, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council;
· Dr. William Graham, chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission;
· Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security for the Congressional Caucus on EMP and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum.
The problem has been festering for many years. The previous American President, George W. Bush, took limited action on Iran, placing sanctions restricting access to nuclear materials and missile technology but refraining from a broader campaign to pressure Iran’s economy. Severe sanctions on Iran’s oil industry only began under the Obama administration.
A report was published in September 2014 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which concluded Iran has failed to prove its nuclear program is not for weapons. The report also admitted that the IAEA is unable to know if Iran has a hidden nuclear weapons program.
In the light of statements made by previous Iranian leaders, these facts further suggest Iran’s intentions lie towards obtaining nuclear weapons, fatwa or not.
Former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said in December 2001: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
More recently the commander of Iran’s notorious Basij militia, which raped protestors as a means of crowd control during the 2009 Green movement protests , told Fars News Agency at the beginning of January “Our ideal is not [nuclear] centrifuges but the destruction of the White House and the annihilation of Zionism [Israel].”
Perhaps most tellingly, current President Hassan Rouhani, regarded as a moderate by Obama and many in the West, said at a campaign rally in 2013 “Saying ‘Death to America’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action.”