Friday, August 22, 2014


Persian Letters

'What If The Iranian Establishment Needed Nuclear Weapons To Survive?'

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (center) speaks to armed forces commanders in April.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (center) speaks to armed forces commanders in April.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the last say in all state matters, has spoken out publicly against nuclear weapons.

In a March meeting with nuclear scientists, Khamenei said that Iran considers the possession of nuclear weapons to be a sin and that the country would not pursue them.

Iranian media have also reported that Khamenei issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, against such weapons.

But amid escalating tensions with the West over Tehran's nuclear program, which the country's leaders insist is for peaceful purposes, the reported fatwa is being scrutinized anew.

Will the alleged ban hold up in practice and under all circumstances? Can the fatwa be reversed?

Those questions are being debated by analysts in the West, but also among regime supporters inside Iran.

Teribon.ir, a hard-line Iranian website, recently asked, “Aren’t nuclear weapons needed to preserve the Islamic establishment?”

The website was referring to comments made by the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruollah Khomeini, who said that preserving the Islamic establishment is an obligation that supersedes all others.

"If regional and international conditions become such that Iran will find it necessary to build nonconventional weapons for its own survival," Teribon.ru asked, "would it be permissible to build nuclear weapons?"

An Iranian cleric and researcher, Hojatoleslam Hossein Ali Salmanian, who was interviewed by the website, suggested that nuclear weapons cannot function as a tool for the preservation of the Iranian establishment.

“Nuclear weapons will also threaten us. It is likely that they will lead to the death of people in the Islamic republic and elsewhere in the world. They won’t help at all to preserve our establishment," said the cleric. He noted that a nuclear weapons capability did not prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"What if [Iran] is attacked in a way that it has no choice but to use nuclear weapons?" Teribon.ru asked in a follow-up question.

Some observers have warned that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could lead the country to pursue nuclear weapons, prompting a reversal of Khamenei's ruling.

Salmanian responded by saying he didn't believe the United States or Israel would use nuclear weapons against Iran in the event of a military conflict.

As far as the West is concerned, Khamenei’s alleged fatwa clearly has not erased fears that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.

But Vali Nasr, a former senior adviser at the U.S. State Department, says Khamenei's public stance against nuclear weapons is significant in that it can help in negotiations with Tehran.

Nasr says that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who met with Khamenei in March, later told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the supreme leader's public comments could be used as “political leverage” and that Washington shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

“When Erdogan and Davutoglu met with Khamenei in March, they got an earful about [his nuclear stance]. You can take it any which way you want. You could think that they’re practicing dissimulation, or hiding their true intent, which could be said about any political position; or you could assume that the Iranians were sending a very clear signal that they were going to meet [U.S. President Barack] Obama’s red line [of weaponization]," Nasr said at an April 16 event at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

On April 1, Clinton called on Iran to substantiate its forswearal of nuclear weapons. She said Tehran's policy could be demonstrated in a number of ways, including shipping out some of Iran’s enriched uranium in exchange for fuel for its research reactor and opening up its nuclear facilities to inspectors.

European Union diplomats who took part in last weekend's nuclear talks in Istanbul have said that Khamenei's fatwa was mentioned by the Iranian delegation.

The diplomats likely offered the same response as Clinton: Prove it.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: john dahodi from: usa
April 17, 2012 20:34
So the west has authority to dictates the terms keeping all the WMD in their pockets and continuing development of more severe WMD and if that is not enough encouraging the fierce enemy of Iran; Israel to carry out all means to threaten Iran and any nation she want. What a double standard and mockery of morality, honesty, fairness and justice?
In Response

by: Jay from: New York
April 17, 2012 21:31
I think the issue will be resolved by negotiation resulting in inspection and certain technical limitations by the Iranians. As a policy the international community should discourage any additional nations being added to the nuclear bomb club. The more there are, the more likely these horrible weapons will be used.
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 18, 2012 08:17
Let us assume that Iran is now able to create a nuclear weapon, as matter of fact is now in process of building a warhead or two. How dose this change the balance of power in the area? The two powers capable of harassing Tehran are now neutralized and the Gulf States are not in any shape to challenge Tehran without major USA backing, which USA can not provide without damaging its reputation and adding additional dent in their already tarnished armour.

Tehran, in other hand can offer, stability in the region, help USA in Iraq and Afghanistan and her integration into world community will open up a very lucrative market, which at this moment is only being utilized by Russia and china.

Of course Iran is facing internal issues and as such doses not have an stable democratic government, and let us not forget 33 years of slogans Marg bar Amrica (Death to America) to deal with. USA has been used as a scapegoat for many years just to become an over night ally.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 18, 2012 17:22
Well, Kaivon, you are saying that people in Europe "are able to voice their concerns without fear of any retaliation from the government". When I read this phrase, I remembered the case of this Greek pensioner who shot himself in the head and died in front of the Greek Parliament a week or two ago: the guy has been working in a farmacy for 35 years, has for 35 years been paying his contributions to the retirement fund and then Frau Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy came and literally masacared the Greek retirement fund - as a result of which this 77-year old guy found himself of the verge of looking for food in a garbage can on the streets of Athens. And this is the case of JUST SO MANY people in SO MANY countries in Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal etc.)!
And you are saying that this fact is secondary, whereas the ability of people to "voice their concerns without fear" is more important? You know what, Kaivon: let this kind of thing happen to YOU (and you, guys, in the UK are on the right track towards bankruptcy and disintegration - with the coming secession of Scotland) and then let's see which one of these two things YOU will find more important.
In Response

by: eli
April 19, 2012 09:36
Eugenio, how does a pensioner committing suicide in protest relate to Greeks' ability to express their opinions without fear of government retaliation? Classic diversion tactic.

And enough with how the EU stole the Greeks' pensions. The Greeks have been on a fiscal path to destruction for at least a decade, borrowing like there was no tomorrow to add more political apointees to the government payroll. Well, tomorrow has come. If anything, the blame lies in Eurocrats pushing the euro without enforcing any of the rules. Classic Euro pride before the fall.
In Response

by: Jay from: New York
April 19, 2012 12:38
Eli, excellent points and well written.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 18, 2012 08:28
India, Pakistan, the DPRK and Israel have all acquired nuclear arms outside of the NPT framework, and Iran will aquire them too - it's just a matter of time.
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 18, 2012 09:48
I believe the Iranian establishment needs the nuclear issue to be around as long as possible to divert attention from the actual issue, which is the government itself. In group Crisis interview in 2009, an analyst in Tehran was quoted to say: “Political repression is affective. What is more, economic difficulties are in some respects regimes ally, as they make citizens more malleable. A more prosperous society would be far more difficult to manage.”

The longer the talk continues, the longer these sanctions will be upheld.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 18, 2012 10:09
If the "analyst" in question really said that "a more prosperous society would be far more difficult to manage", one can only DISagree with him. Just look at the current situation in Europe - most of the EU member-states have been getting LESS prosperous since the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 - and as a result are getting MORE difficult to manage. For example, democracally elected govts of Papandreu and Berlusconi in Greece and Italy have NOT managed to master the crisis (imposed on us all by the global financial oligarchy) and have been replaced by "technical" UNelected ones - that are NOT managing to solve any problem either. What's coming next for these European countries? A military dictatorship? A German occupation regime? The time will show.
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 18, 2012 11:02
I believe there is a different interpretation of the word prosperous. We in EU have been hit by the outbreak of the economical crisis back in 2008, and there are countries which have failed to manage their risk far less well than others. However, they are able to voice their concerns without fear of any retaliation from the government. That is because us in EU have taken freedom of speech, freedom of press, rallying against the government if we are unhappy with their proposal for granted, so our society has prospered to a point to allow us to think we have these right. In contrast, in countries where on daily basis you struggle to survive to live, what the government dose with your oil revenue, increase of tax rate, is the last thing on your mind.

So the sentence is a valid one, as the government will get away with what they want and the normal people in the street will just struggle along. Iran 1979 revolution will not be repeated again, because now change of the government will just get people back where they started and that is in the past and will not free them from predicament they are in at this moment.
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 19, 2012 08:35
To me it seems you are confusing the issue here, this article and the discussion held, has nothing to do with the failure of the EU countries and the bail out restriction put on them. This serious issue should be discussed in another forum, where I am more than happy to discuss and learn and offer my opinion.

My statement is still valid; we in Europe enjoy far more liberating lives than those in Middle East and Iran that is a fact. Let’s take this forum as a prime example, you and I have the right to express our opinion openly and as matter of fact, we are encouraged to do so. This dose not happen in every country.

Dose Iran Need to have a nuclear weapon? That is the question. It is a simple question with a very complicated answer. Examining the countries which surround Iran, Russia, has large stock pile of nuclear arsenal, Turkey dose not and as far as I am aware will not follow the road of becoming a nuclear country, Iraq is now out of action, Arab Gulf states rely on US for protection and have more to lose, Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and has not signed any treaty, India same as Pakistan, Afghanistan no longer a threat. Going a bit further out, we have Syria, currently the only ally Iran has and of course Israel which falls in the same category of India and Pakistan.

So we have countries that are supplied by USA or are protected by USA, dictating to Iran what they should do or what they can or can not have. Are we actually surprised the stand that Iranian governments has taken? I wonder if these sanctions would have been imposed, if we had just bought the weapons. I think the argument here is not, should Iran have nuclear weapons, the question is, why Iran has not bought it from us.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 19, 2012 09:24
Well, Kaivon, talking about "issues" and the lack thereof, I personally - living in the EU for a number of years already - find the "issues" of whether Iran has nuclear arms or doesn't, whether there there is "freedom of speech" in the Middle East or there isn't, very frankly, VERY secondary. I would say: let the Iranians decide for themselves what political system or weapon systems to have without any interference from such states as the US, Saudi Arabia or Israel.
But what such web-sites as RFE/RL are doing is publishing A LOT of articles on this strictly speaking unimportant for the Europeans "issue" of Iran - and therewith TRYING TO DIVERT the attention of the people living here from the MUCH MORE SALIENT ISSUES related to the never ending financial and economic crisis that the EU is stuck in ever since 2008.
In Response

by: kaivon from: London
April 19, 2012 12:44
Eugenio, I would have agreed with you, if this was posted on any other forum which was not labelled Persian letters. Since it is labelled Persian letters, I would expect discussion on Iran be the primary focus of this forum and any talk about EU and her issues to take a secondary role.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
April 18, 2012 10:12
Nuclear Weapons To Survive??

I would like to see the entire list of countries and organizations that want to survive with the help of nuclear weapons..sure that among them there is a place for Somali pirates and the Taliban..
If the religious fanatics can have the atomic bomb, why can not terrorists and pirates?
It is extremely unfair!-))))....
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 18, 2012 11:23
I believe Talibans can considered Terrorist and religious fanatics, however Iran dose not fit in this portfolio.
In Response

by: Dog Bar from: Earth
April 23, 2012 18:12
Your right... Anyhow in a hundred years from now,
We will all be dead and the world and all it countries,
The pirates, terrorists alike will all have the bomb
look lets be relistic. Technology catches us all up
from the first gun until now. The world has become
a smaller place.


by: zach
April 18, 2012 10:42
Interesting article. not to nitpick but Khamenei's speech to AEOI was in February.

by: Jeff
April 18, 2012 13:37
Very insightful, as usual.

by: Jerry from: Illinois, U.S.
April 19, 2012 06:02
What everyone is overlooking is the fact that enrichment for use in making electricity by nuclear power is guaranteed under terms of NPT. So far Iran is doing only that, enriching up to 20%. Some critics are saying only 3% is needed. What they are overlooking is the newer type Russian design, safer, more efficient design nuclear reactor uses 20% enrichment. Why should Iran, who is getting its reactor from Russia, not use the newer safer design which uses the 20% enrichment? Just because 20% can be enriched to weapons grade more easily than 3% is not a good reason to use older, less safe, less efficient technology. Let's face it it's just a ploy to make Iran appear dangerous, not a scientificaly justifiable reason.
In Response

by: eli
April 19, 2012 09:31
Iran's Russian-built Bushehr reactor (their only one) uses Uranium enriched to 3.5% : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11045537
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 19, 2012 15:43
An interesting article, specially the point of concern from Israel foreign mystery:

"It is totally unacceptable that a country that so blatantly violates (international treaties) should enjoy the fruits of using nuclear energy,"

This is a prime example of double standard of NPT, where we have three countries (India, Pakistan and Israel) which have not signed into NPT are overlooked and no sanctions are aimed at those countries; however Iran has to bend over backwards and be accommodating.
In Response

by: Kaivon from: London
April 19, 2012 10:23
This is a prime example of See it my way or the highway syndrome. Iran can not be controlled and therefore, should be considered a threat. Iran has long and proud history and now it is going through a phase of shaking the yoke of dependence and become an independence country. There will struggles and few heads broken along the way, but by no means should they be stamped out, phased out and ignored, just because in the past, rulers of Iran were dependent on others, we should be dependant now.
In Response

by: Dog Bar from: Earth
April 23, 2012 17:58
Jerry.. Just watch this space soon
The Republician will be in the White House
Oh boy our we in trouble
The Jewden lovin Republicans
Not only love the pretend state of Isreal
but condone it:) especially coz the USA have
their own concentration camps dotted around
the world. Isreal on the other hand only have a few like
GAZZA. etc..
But your right it's a ploy
War all ways pays, War generates income, etc.
Plus Iran oil reserves are the seventh largest in the world.
which is more than enough reason to go.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org