An Iranian fatwa (holy edict) permitting the use of nuclear weapons has been issued for the first time. Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, has stated that using nuclear weapons as a counter-measure is acceptable in terms of sharia (Islamic law), depending upon the goal for which the weapons are used.
Up until now, the religious leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have publicly declared that the use of nuclear weapons are opposed to sharia, maintaining this position to buttress the argument that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Gharavian, a lecturer at the religious schools of Qom, stated that:
One must say that when the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is only natural that, as a counter-measure, it is necessary to be able to use these weapons. However, what is important is the goal they may be used for.
With Iran’s President Ahmadinejad openly declaring that Israel must be wiped from the map of the Middle East, we are compelled to ask if Gharavian would consider killing Israeli Jews to be a purpose that sharia would consider acceptable for the use of nuclear weapons?
This fatwa marks a clear signal that the ultra-conservative spiritual leaders in Iran are in full control. Gharavian’s statement takes additional importance because he is a disciple of Ayatollah Yazdi, who is also the spiritual mentor of Ahmadinejad. The Jamkaran Mosque in Qom was also the center from which Ayatollah Khomeini based his opposition to the Pahlavi dynasty before he was forced to leave Iran in exile. Devout Shiites believe that the Mahdi, the famous “lost Twelfth Iman,” disappeared as a young boy down a well that is now revered within the Jamkaran Mosque.
Ayatollah Yazdi and President Ahmadinejad both profess that the Mahdi will emerge from that same well in his Second Coming, but only following an apocalypse in which the world will go through great calamities and upheavals. In September 2005, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, Ahmadinejad mentioned the Mahdi in describing what he considered to be his divinely appointed political mission as president of Iran.
Gharavian’s fatwa was published by the IraNews news agency, suggesting that the statement had the official blessing of the Iranian regime. Iran has openly defied the world diplomatic community by deciding unilaterally to resume uranium processing at Isfahan and uranium enriching at Natanz. Now, the Mesbah Yazdi group has given the first public statement that the use of nuclear weapons is authorized on religious grounds, a further defiant step on the road toward Iran’s open proclamation that the regime is pursuing nuclear weapons, not simply the peaceful use of nuclear power.
The signs that the radical fundamentalists have regained control of Iran’s revolution are abundant. In recent weeks, Ahmadinejad has traveled to Damascus to give Syrian President Bashar Assad his support in the international controversy over Sryian complicity in the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Hariri. Last summer, before taking over the presidency, Ahmadinejad met in Tehran with Seyed Hassan Nasrollah, the Lebanese leader of the radical terrorist group Hezbollah.
In January this year, Moqtada al-Sadr, the young Iraqi Shiite radical cleric whose “Al-Mahdi Army” engaged in acts of terrorism in April 2004 against U.S. troops in Iraq, visited Tehran and swore to support Iran if the United States or Israel should attack Iran. Hamas member Muhammad Jamal al-Natshah, who was elected to the Palestinian legislature in late January, after being released from Israeli prison, declared that Iran would provide financial support to Hamas if Israel should cut off funds.
Iran is also rushing to conclude with China a $100 billion deal that will allow a Chinese government-controlled oil company to develop the vast oil and natural-gas holdings in Iran’s Yadavaran field. The goal is to complete the deal before a U.S.-led motion might cause the Security Council to consider imposing additional sanctions on Iran for violations in their nuclear program.
Iran will hold in euros foreign currency reserves from the sale of oil and natural gas to China. With China’s increasing dependency upon Iran for energy resources, the Iranians have suggested that China should diversify into euros a greater portion of their nearly $1 trillion in foreign currency reserves. With approximately 75 percent of China’s foreign currency reserves currently held in dollars, a move by the Chinese to the euro could depress the value of the dollar, making more costly the U.S. Treasury’s need to sell massive debt into the international markets to maintain our large and growing twin trade and budget deficits.
Now, ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s scheduled March 6 meeting in Vienna to vote on referring Iran to the Security Council, the IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei has suggested that Iran might be permitted to enrich a small quantity of uranium for “research and development” purposes. ElBaradei has told diplomats recently that a pilot enrichment program at Natanz is Iran’s bottom-line, “a reality” the world may have to learn to live with. With this statement, the prospect looms that Iran may once again have won the negotiating game of chess, by winning the concession of even the IAEA that Natanz and Isfahan can continue operating.
Even should the IAEA vote to send the Iranian portfolio to the Security Council, Russia and China appear ready to veto any meaningful sanctions. In the next few weeks, we will most likely see the United States forced to admit that the Bush administration strategy since the second inauguration of allowing the IAEA and the E.U.-3 to lead negotiations with Iran may simply amount to a waste of time.
Iran has also begun suggesting that the Russian proposal to enrich uranium on Russian soil, possibly with the assistance of an international consortium pledging to provide enriched uranium to Iran will be acceptable, as long as Iran can also continue enriching uranium on Iranian soil. What reason does the world community have to believe that Iran will only enrich a small amount of uranium when Iran has consistently violated agreements with the IAEA?
With Iran and Hamas both declaring that Israel has no legitimate reason to survive and with diplomacy failing to contain the Iranian nuclear program, increasingly the military option is the only option left with any promise of stopping Iran from having nuclear weapons that the mullahs now declare can be used in accordance with Islamic law. What more do we need to see before we conclude that Israel and America are inevitably headed to war with Iran?