Iran reiterates fatwa against nuclear weapons following advisor’s comments

Tehran seeks to reassure world that a controversial religious edict against nuclear arms still stands.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

After a senior security advisor confirmed that Iran has the ability to build atomic weapons, officials in Tehran sought to assure the world that a religious edict against nuclear arms still stands.

“In regard to the topic of weapons of mass destruction, we have the fatwa,” or religious ruling, by Iran’s supreme leader that prohibits the manufacture of such weapons, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said.

“It seems that there has been no change in the view and position of the Islamic Republic of Iran” regarding the nuclear policy, Kanani told reporters.

“Iran’s nuclear capacities are great, but, as it has mentioned many times, Iran’s nuclear technology is completely peaceful and under continued monitoring of the (UN’s) International Atomic Energy Agency,” he insisted.

Tehran claims that a religious edict made orally by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2003 is proof that Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

Critics note that because edict was not committed to writing, nobody has actually seen it. They also point out that Khamenei or other religious leaders have the authority to modify or cancel the fatwa as circumstances change.

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The Foreign Ministry’s statement comes on the heels of comments made on Sunday by Kamal Kharazi, a security advisor to Khamenei.

Interviewed by Al Jazeera‘s Arabic channel, Kharazi said, “It is no secret that we have the technical capabilities to manufacture a nuclear bomb, but we have no decision to do so.”

Karazi, who heads Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, added, “In a few days, we were able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent, and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium.”

Iran’s uranium stocks are at 60% purity — far higher than the 3.67% necessary for a civilian nuclear program. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched to 90% purity. It’s widely believed that Iran could finish enriching enough uranium to produce an atomic bomb in about four weeks.

No country maintaining a purely civilian nuclear program has ever enriched uranium to the degree that Iran has.