Iran Tries to Take the Moral High Ground on Nukes

On February 22, Iran’s Press TV reported: “Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons. … In a Wednesday meeting in Tehran with the director and officials of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and nuclear scientists the Leader described the country’s nuclear and technological achievements.”

Below are excerpts from the speech in which Khameini disavows nuclear weapons. (Thanks to Bernhard of Moon of Alabama for bringing this site — the Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khomeini — to our attention.)

Nuclear weapons are not at all beneficial to us. Moreover, from an ideological and fiqhi perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin. We also believe that keeping such weapons is futile and dangerous, and we will never go after them. They know this, but they stress the issue in order to stop our movement.

Furthermore …

We want to say that we are not after nuclear weapons, that we do not believe nuclear weapons bring about power and that we can break the kind of power that is based on nuclear weapons. By Allah’s favor, our nation will do this.

Then, on Feb. 29, the New York Times reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi:

… denied the nuclear program had a military purpose, saying Iran would be a stronger country without nuclear arms.

“We do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons, quite the opposite,” he said, adding that on the basis of a religious decree issued by Ayatollah Khamenei, “the production possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons are illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.”

He said the existence of nearly 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world posed “the gravest threat” to sustainable international security and that as long as they existed there would always be a risk of their use and proliferation.

Khameini spoke about nuclear weapons at more length in 2011.

Iran is not after an atomic bomb, and it is even opposed to possession of chemical weapons. Even when Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, we did not try to manufacture chemical weapons. Such things are not in line with the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Khameini declared that nuclear weapons “are useless except for intimidation, massacre and a false sense of security based on pre-emptive power resulting from guaranteed annihilation of everyone.” Citing the atom bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said (emphasis added):

The use of nuclear weapons resulted not only in large-scale killings and destruction, but also in indiscriminate massacre of people — military members and civilians, young and old, men and women. And its anti-human effects went beyond political and geographic borders, even inflicting irreparable harm on future generations. Therefore, using or even threatening to use such weapons is considered a serious violation of the most basic humanitarian rules and is a clear manifestation of war crimes.

But, even though Iran doesn’t seem to be developing or acquiring nuclear weapons at the moment, Khameini neglected to mention developing the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Renouncing that is obviously implied in denouncing the use of weapons. Still, theological types are as notorious as lawyers for resorting to hair-splitting legalisms as lawyers. Khameini again:

… the greatest violators of the NPT are the powers that have reneged on their obligation to dispose of nuclear weapons mentioned in Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It’s tough to deny that here he has nuclear weapons states — especially in the West: the United States, to be specific — dead to rights.