Stanley's blog

Living three years in Iran, with extensive negotiating experience representing sometimes western companies and sometimes Iranian enterprises, taught me never to try to analyse Iranian thinking as if they were thought like us. The Iranian negotiating approach, whether natural or planned, is to confuse, enabling them to pick their way through confusion more easily than their ‘opponents’.

The United Nations Security Council has just passed another and tougher sanctions resolution, but will it be fully implemented and will it bring the Iranian government to its knees. The answer to both questions is ‘No’.
As is obvious to anyone who knows Iran, the Americans, with the Europeans of course following, used a counter-productive strategy from the outset.

The US (with its special relation, the UK) deposed a democratically elected Prime Minister in 1953, established, with the help of Mossad, an effective SAVAK (secret service), kept the Shah on the throne through a military presence and arsenal, helped Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war, ignored Saddam’s use of chemical warfare…

The western position is that Iran has broken the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. But so did the nuclear powers from the outset by not reducing their stockpiles. They also turned a blind eye, or helped, Israel, Pakistan and India to go nuclear. If you were an Iranian, how would you feel vis-à-vis the US and the West?

Iran has the right to go nuclear. Threats, boycotts etc just stiffen the resolve. Destroying their installations, as the Israelis brilliantly did in Iraq, has not been possible.

Iran has not bee persuaded to accept western demands. The US won’t invade. Israel would like to but costs exceed benefits. However, this cannot be ruled out and would have catastrophic consequences.

Nuclear weapons are anti-Islamic

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa (religious decree) in 2004 against the use of nuclear weapons.

In a subsequent sermon, he declared that “developing, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam.”

An official Iranian statement to IAEA on 10 August 2005 said:

“The Iranian people and their officials have declared times and again that the nuclear weapon is religiously forbidden (Haram) in Islam and they do not have such a weapon.”

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”

On 4 June 2009, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Iman Khomeini, Ayatollah Khamenei repeated:

“The Iranian people and their officials have declared times and again that the nuclear weapon is religiously forbidden (Haram) in Islam and they do not have such a weapon.” and added: “But the western countries and America in particular through false propaganda claim that Iran seeks to build nuclear bombs which is totally false and a breach of the legitimate rights of the Ira nation.”

Khameini, in his message of 17 April 2010 to the International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament stated:

“We regard the use of these weapons to be illegal and haram, and it is incumbent on all to protect humankind from this grave disaster.”

Three days later, he repeated this in a speech:

“We consider the use of such weapons as haraam and believe that it is everyone’s duty to make efforts to secure humanity against this great disaster.”

The Ayatollah is apparently not to be believed. I have no great feelings for Khamenei’s religious or political views, but would nevertheless take seriously what he says as a religious leader, and indeed in a fatwa.
And if the statements have no effect on the West, what is the point in making them and exposing later to a religious people that the fatwah and statements have been broken?

The Iranian régime derives its legitimacy from its fidelity to Islam. Why then should the Supreme Leader continue to declare that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic if Iran intends to develop them?
Why should the Ayatollah reconfirm previous statements that nuclear weapons are contrary to Islam and then show to a deeply religious people that the Supreme Leader has broken his own fatwa?

Why have these statements not been fully reported and analysed in the western press?

I do not think that Iran is building nuclear weapons, but that does not mean that I am content with the status quo.

An unrealistic solution?

Israelis to whom I have spoken do not believe that the fatwa is no more than a subterfuge. They say that, when the time comes the Ayatollah will decree that Israel is an exception.

But why not propose to the Iranians that if the Ayatollah confirms the fatwa as absolute, and if President Ahmadinejad publicly confirms his own commitment to the fatwah, and that both the positions of the Ayatollah and President are widely published in Iran, we will accept these assurances because we believe in their adherence to Islam?

In return, we would welcome Iran back into the international family.

A crazy idea? Maybe, but can you think of a better one?

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