Forget the Fatwa

(National Interest) Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji - Iran claims that it will never build nuclear weapons because Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa banning "the bomb." Yet fatwas are not immutable and can be altered, depending on circumstances. In any case, it is the principle of maslahat (the interest of the regime) that guides the formulation of Iranian policy. During the Iran-Iraq War, Ayatollah Khomeini reportedly issued a fatwa regarding chemical weapons. Yet this did not stop Tehran from producing a "chemical weapons capability" during the latter phases of the war. So if Iran's chemical fatwa did not preclude it from subsequently acquiring a chemical-weapons capability, would Iran's nuclear fatwa preclude it from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability? The writers are senior fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2013-03-19 00:00:00

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