Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Iranian leader issues fatwa against nuclear weapons

Iran today broke the seals at one of its nuclear facilities. Needless to say, that seems like awfully bad news, though Iran may be as much as a decade away from nuclear weaponry. But there's a bigger story out there, and it's not getting nearly enough coverage in the media:

The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the real leader of Iran, has issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons. At an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Iran issued the following statement, which I quote from the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA):

We meet when the world is remembering the atomic bombings of the civilians in Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) sixty years ago.

The savagery of the attack, the human suffering it caused, the scale of the civilian loss of life turning individuals, old and young, into ashes in a split second, and maiming indefinitely those who survived should never be removed from our memory. It is the most absurd manifestation of irony that the single state who caused this single nuclear catastrophe in a twin attack on our earth now has assumed the role of the prime preacher in the nuclear field while ever expanding its nuclear weapons capability...

Indeed, it is not only Iran but also many members of NAM (the Non-Aligned Movement) that are denied the peaceful uses of nuclear technology by some of the NPT nuclear-weapon states and their allies through the mechanisms of export controls and other denial arrangements. In 1995, they adopted the so-called "Iran clause" under which they agreed to deny nuclear technology to Iran in any circumstances.

You can then understand, why Iran after being denied nuclear technology in violation of the NPT, had no other option but to rely on indigenous efforts with precaution on full transparency and we succeeded in developing our nuclear technology. Iran is a nuclear fuel cycle technology holder, a capability which is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain. The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and additional protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency's safeguard system.

Yes, there's the predictable anti-Americanism here -- and one worries about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blend of anti-Americanism and economic populism -- but the fatwa itself is extraordinary. It may be seen as something of a smokescreen, even as a lie, and there may be nothing to prevent Iran from shifting its allegedly peaceful use of nuclear power over to weapons-production sometime down the road, but, for now, Iran's pledge seems to be a promising development.

We shall see. (In the meantime, remain hopeful, if skeptical.)

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