You may have read the news this week that the Iranian regime announced the capacity to build nuclear weapons. I tracked down the story in English-language regime mouthpiece Tehran Times. The story described the announcement as “a strong warning shot,” although it added the proviso that the regime has no intentions of using that capability (at this time).
The story advises us to read carefully: “Kamal Kharrazi is usually reticent and cagey about Iran’s foreign policy. He rarely speaks to the press. And when he speaks, he chooses his words carefully and in a measured way. That’s why his recent remarks that Iran is now a nuclear threshold state should be read carefully.” So read this carefully:
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Kharrazi, who is the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations (SCFR), said Iran does have the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon and that it is virtually a nuclear threshold state with nuclear deterrence. “That they [the West] speak of Iran getting closer to being a nuclear threshold state, [is nothing new]. It should be said that Iran is a [nuclear] threshold state and this is not clandestine. Iran is capable of building a nuclear bomb. But it has no intention of doing so,” he said, according to a readout of the interview put out by the SCFR website.
Kharrazi then explained why Iran does not intend to build such a weapon. “Nuclear weapon runs counter to Iran’s beliefs and its security exigencies. The mere possession of nuclear technology and the capability of building a bomb is a deterrent,” he said.
The story interprets Kharrazi’s remarks as “a warning shot across the West’s bow that Iran is not without options if they keep threatening it and stonewalling in the nuclear talks. Iran has said it is willing to reach a fair solution to the nuclear issue but the West failed to reciprocate Iran’s goodwill.” Reading carefully, as instructed, I take that as a threat.
Reading carefully, as instructed, I also note that Kharrazi made no mention of the fatuous fatwa that President Obama cited in April 2015 when he was selling the JCPOA. The White House transcript of Obama’s remarks is here (“Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons”).
Seeking to save face among its American friends, the regime added a postscript via AFP in the July 20 story “Iran says fatwa against building nuclear weapons unchanged after ‘bomb’ comment.” According to AFP, “Tehran gave assurances Wednesday that its nuclear policy was unchanged and that it still adhered to a fatwa banning weapons of mass destruction, after an Iranian official said the country was able to make atomic bombs.”
While cited by the AFP, the fatwa has never been sighted. MEMRI has now posted an appendix on the nonexistence of the fatwa. The appendix to this MEMRI story compiles “MEMRI reports on the issue of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s fatwa banning nuclear weapons – which does not exist[.]” Ruthie Blum comments further in the Jerusalem Post column “Iran’s fabricated fatwa excuse.”