MEMRI: In a March 14, 2014 article in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, titled “Obama, the Bomb and the Fatwa,” prominent Iranian Middle East analyst, author, and columnist Amir Taheri berates U.S. President Barack Obama for citing an anti-nuclear fatwa allegedly issued by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and presenting it as proof that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
Taheri, who was editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan before the Islamic revolution and today resides in Europe, notes that neither Obama nor anyone else has ever seen this fatwa, and that, even if it exists, it is likely to be phrased so ambiguously as to be open to countless interpretations.
Moreover, he says, Iranian clerics recently voiced opinions suggesting that the religious ban on nuclear weapons is by no means absolute. One ayatollah even implied that building a nuclear bomb is a necessary condition for the return of the Mahdi, the Shi‘ite messiah.
Taheri concludes that, before touting this fatwa, Obama should at least demand to see it. He also advises him to remember that Khamenei is not considered a big religious authority in Iran, so his fatwa, if it exists, does not necessarily carry much weight.
The article, which is in English, can be read at the MEMRI link, or at Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, here.