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.”