No documentary evidence backs up President Barack Obama’s claim that Iran’s theocratic rulers have issued a religious edict against the development of nuclear weapons, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors and translates news reports from Arab and Persian outlets.
The claim is an eight-year old hoax promoted since 2005 by Iran’s diplomats and by Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says MEMRI.
The Islamic “fatwa,” or religiously-justified law, “was never issued by [Iran’s] Supreme Leader [Ali] Khamenei and does not exist; neither the Iranian regime nor anybody else can present it,” MEMRI reported on Sunday.
Obama is expected to face media questions on Monday when he holds a meeting about Iran’s nuke programs with Israel’s prime minister Bibi Netanyahu.
Obama claimed on Friday that the fatwa does exist, and could lead to a deal with Iran to end its development of nuclear weapons.
“I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution [because] Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” he told reporters from the White House’ press podium.
Obama’s decision to continue international nuclear discussions with Iran has resulted in yet another round of talks over Iran’s weapons program.
Those talks have been underway since 1992, when the International Atomic Energy Agency visited Iran to gauge compliance with anti-proliferation regulations. Since then, Iran has developed its own missiles, and has begun manufacturing the critical fuel for nuclear bombs.
The renewed talks are generally opposed by Israel and various Arab countries, who fear they will not stop Iran’s weapons development, but will stop military strikes similar to the 1981 strike that wrecked Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.
In April 2012, MEMRI reported that the fatwa is not mentioned on Khameni’s official website, and an official comment evaded a question about the existence of the supposed fatwa.
That comment answered a March 2012 question, asking, “in light of what is written in Surat Al-Anfal, Verse 60… is it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?”
Khameni’s answer, according to MEMRI, was “your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.”
The no-comment side-stepped a direct clash between the supposed anti-nuke fatwa and one of the many aggressive verses in the Koran, which is believed to be verbatim directions from the Muslim deity, Allah.
The questioner cited “Verse 60” in the Anfal chapter of the Koran, which orders Muslims to “prepare against [non-Muslims] whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah.”
A list of 493 Iranian fatwas was published in July by a Iranian website linked to the theocratic regime military guard, according to an Aug. 13 report issued by MEMRI.
“These fatwas cover a wide range of issues, from political and cultural to religious, and include such topics as the treatment of Baha’is, trade with Israeli companies, religious purity and uncleanness, the status of women, and more…. [but the supposed nuclear fatwa] is not included in this compilation,” MEMRI said.
The fatwas bar the use of a toilet if an Islamic religious item falls into it, require worshippers to “purify” themselves only once if they fart during prayer, allows people to take alcohol-infused medicine if they don’t know about the alcohol, and proscribe lying to non-Muslims during commercial transactions, according to MEMRI.
The fatwa’s existence was first claimed in 2005 by an Iranian diplomatic Sirus Naseri, during a meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors.
The claimed was repeated in April 2012 in a Washington Post op-ed by by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. “Almost seven years ago, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei… issued a religious edict — a fatwa — forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons,” Salehi wrote. The article did not provide a link or an image of the supposed fatwa.
In April 2102, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also cited the supposed fatwa, but noted that its nature and purpose were unclear.
“The other interesting development which you may have followed was the repetition by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that they would – that he had issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons, against weapons of mass destruction,” Clinton told attendees at a NATO conference in Norfolk, Va.
“Prime Minister Erdogan and I discussed this at some length, and I’ve discussed with a number of experts and religious scholars… If it is indeed a statement of principle, of values, then it is a starting point for being operationalized, which means that it serves as the entryway into a negotiation,” she said.
Erdogan is an Islamist, has supported the international Muslim Brotherhood, including its HAMAS affiliate in Gaza and has bitterly criticized Israel on many occasions. Turkey borders Iran, and both share some trade and security interests.