Nuclear Issue Puts Focus on Ayatollah's Remarks

(New York Times) James Risen - As negotiations over Iran's nuclear program begin, efforts to divine where Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, really stands on the nuclear issue have taken on critical importance. The ayatollah was reported to have issued a fatwa, an Islamic edict, against Iranian acquisition of a nuclear bomb. But last year he said it was a mistake for Libya's Moammar Gaddafi to have given up his nuclear weapons program. Some analysts say Khamenei's denial of Iranian nuclear ambitions is part of a Shiite historical concept called "taqiyya," or lying to protect the Shiite community. Dennis B. Ross, who stepped down last fall after coordinating Iran policy for the White House, said, "This is someone who has consistently said if you make concessions, you only whet the appetite of the arrogant powers....He is committed to the nuclear program, but he is also someone who is obviously centered on preserving the system that he has created."

2012-04-20 00:00:00

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