Saturday, September 22, 2007

Do the clerics of Iran want nukes?

Despite the hype, it has long been recorded that Iran's clergy has been against nuclear weapons. Ayatullah Al-Khumayni used to refer to them as "tools of Satan."

Nuclear weapons unholy, Iran says
Islam forbids use, clerics proclaim
Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, October 31, 2003

(10-31) 04:00 PDT Qom, Iran -- In a surprising development, Iran's hard-line clerical establishment, which had bitterly resisted American pressure to open the country's nuclear facilities to inspection, is using its religious influence to rally support for an agreement with the West to foreswear the development of nuclear weapons.

Led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's "supreme leader," Iranian clerics have repeatedly declared that Islam forbids the development and use of all weapons of mass destruction.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction," Khamenei said recently. "In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form."

These and other statements from senior Iranian clerics appear to have bolstered domestic support for an agreement signed Oct. 21 with Britain, France and Germany that will allow international inspections of the country's nuclear program.

Bush administration officials and many Western arms experts remain skeptical of Iran's intentions, believing that the country is using its civilian nuclear program to hide a covert weapons program. They cite intelligence, such as the discovery of enriched uranium at two Iranian sites, to support their contention.

But other analysts, diplomats and Iranian clerics say that the unexpectedly strong pronouncements from Khamenei and others have produced a strong domestic consensus on the issue that would be hard for the ruling religious establishment to reverse. "I haven't seen anything like it, this kind of consensus," said one Western diplomat in Tehran. "Even if you view it cynically, as I do, religion seems to be the rhetorical glue that holds it all together."

In an interview, one of Khamenei's top aides hinted that while some prohibited nuclear weapons work may have been carried out, the government has decided to put a stop to it.

"Those in Iran who clandestinely believed they could develop nuclear weapons have now been forced to admit that is forbidden under Islam," said Hussein Shariatmadari, who is president of the Kayhan chain of newspapers, controlled by Khamenei, and an unofficial spokesman for the supreme leader.

Shariatmadari added that there also are practical considerations behind the theological ban.

"A nuclear bomb is not like wine -- you can make in your home and hide it easily," he said. "No, the IAEA can find anything. So if you can't use it, why have it?" (MORE)

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