The Fantasy of the Ayatollah’s Anti-Nuclear Fatwa

In a 2015 speech in the Rose Garden announcing a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations with Iran, then-president Barack Obama stated that “Iran’s supreme leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.” The same religious ruling has been cited by numerous advocates for compromise with the Islamic Republic for over a decade, and on Wednesday it was mentioned by a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry. Ruthie Blum comments:

The fatwa in question, which Iran yammered about for years until supposedly publishing its text in 2010, is a hoax. The propaganda about it was used by Iranian figures as a tool to prove to the administration of then-U.S. president . . . Barack Obama that Tehran’s intentions were honorable. It was thus music to Washington’s ears, and nobody at the White House or State Department bothered to find out whether or not it was true.

[A]t this stage, even delusional American diplomats appear to have stopped grasping at that particular straw. . . . Naturally, this hasn’t kept Iranian officials from invoking the phony fatwa every time one or another of them brags about Tehran’s military prowess. It’s their default maneuver and one that media outlets can’t resist highlighting.

It’s silly, really, since those who refer to the Islamic decree always say in the same breath that it will be moot the moment that Iran decides to violate it. This is precisely what the former Iranian deputy foreign minister Mohammad-Javad Larijani did on Sunday in an interview on Iranian TV. “Naturally, according to the [supreme] leader’s fatwa, we are religiously forbidden from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and this includes nuclear weapons,” he stated. “Nevertheless, if we ever want to do this, nobody will be able to stop us, of course. They themselves know this.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, U.S. Foreign policy

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy