Most interviews with Ali Motahhari have been deleted. All that remains is a reference to Khamenei’s edict (fatwa) that it is about the use of nuclear weapons haram (forbidden).
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- On April 24, 2022, former Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Motahhari, said in an interview that Iran has been trying to create nuclear weapons since the beginning of its nuclear program. “In the beginning, when we started the nuclear program, our goal was to develop the bomb and improve our deterrence.”
- Motahhari quoted parts of the Koran Surat al-Anfal (60): “And prepare against them everything you can in terms of power and horses of war They can frighten the enemy of Allah and your enemy. However, we failed to keep it secret and our confidential reports were exposed by the exiled opposition organization Mujahideen Khalq.
- “If we could have secretly developed and tested a bomb, as Pakistan did, it would have been a powerful deterrent and international actors would have been more considerate of Iran’s status.” Other countries rely on nuclear power. I think when we start something, we should see it through to the end.”
- Ali Motahhari is the son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, one of the founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and an ideologist close to Khomeini and who headed the Revolutionary Council at the start of the Islamic Revolution.
- Motahhari’s words attracted wide interest in the world media, and various Iranian state media rushed to deny them. The Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA), which published the interview, re-edited it and removed the parts on Iran’s original intentions to produce nuclear weapons.
Amid the stalled nuclear talks in Vienna on April 24, 2022, former Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahhari said in an interview with the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA) that Iran has been striving to produce nuclear weapons since the beginning of its nuclear program, but the Policy changed at a later date. “In the beginning, when we started the nuclear program, our goal was to develop the bomb and improve our deterrence.” Motahhari quotes parts of Surat al-Anfal (60): “And prepare against them everything you can in terms of power and horses of war They can frighten the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” “However,” Motahhari continued, “we have failed to keep it secret and our confidential reports have been exposed by the Monafeqin (Hypocrite) [i.e., the exiled opposition organization, Mujahideen Khalq].”1
A country that wants a peaceful nuclear program never starts enrichment, but builds a reactor and then starts the enrichment process. When we enrich [uranium] It immediately gives the impression that we want to develop the bomb…. If we could have secretly developed and tested a bomb, as Pakistan did, it would have been a powerful deterrent, and international actors would have been more considerate of Iran’s status. Other countries rely on nuclear power. I believe when we start something we should see it through to the end…. Iran is allowed to build a nuclear bomb because Sharia prohibits it the use of it and not the making of the atomic bomb. [But] Now the Supreme Leader’s opinion [Ali Khamenei] is that the development of a nuclear bomb is definite haram [religiously forbidden].
When asked if his words could affect the future of the stalled Vienna nuclear talks, Motahhari said: “No one is listening to me. I have no official post and my words are just my opinion.”2
Ali Motahhari is the son of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, one of the founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and an ideologist close to Khomeini and who headed the Revolutionary Council at the start of the Islamic Revolution. He is also the brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, who was the head of the Iranian parliament for 12 years and one of the harshest critics of former President Ahmadinejad. Motahhari was considered a senior Conservative politician and was the second deputy leader of the Majlis (parliament) from 2016 to 2019. However, in 2020 he was barred from running for the 2020 Majlis elections by the Guardian Council and he urged Khamenei to launch an investigation into the mass disqualification of Majlis candidates. Motahhari had started to take more pragmatic positions and join the conservative-pragmatic camp. In February 2021, he submitted his candidacy for the Iranian presidential elections.
The problematic parts have been deleted
Motahhari’s words attracted widespread interest on social media and world media, and various Iranian state media rushed to deny them. Apparently, the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA), which published the Motahhari interview, revised it under tremendous pressure from within Iran, removing the problematic parts of Iran’s nuclear program and original intention to produce nuclear weapons. The only point the outlet kept was Motahhari’s claim that Khamenei is now opposed to use of nuclear weapons and considers it to be haram.
Shortly after the interview aired, a “knowledgeable” source denied Motahhari’s claims. In conversation with the Just Speaking to the news agency, which is affiliated with the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the official told Iran’s nuclear program “never had a military dimension and irresponsible people made statements based on lack of knowledge or their subjective political opinion.” Iran’s enemies, the official noted, have for years claimed that Iran is trying to covertly develop nuclear weapons and that their goal is to curtail its peaceful nuclear program.4 That Tasnim The news agency quoted Motahhari as retracting his claim that Iran was looking for nuclear weapons, saying in a clarification that “the hypocrites have distorted Iran’s involvement in the issue.”5 Many Iranian media quoted this Just Agency and released Motahhari’s clarification.
Motahhari: I was misunderstood
After the intense pressure apparently exerted on him, Motahhari denied on his Instagram account on April 25 that his words had been taken out of context and that Iran had never searched for nuclear weapons.
What I was saying was that initially there were people who believed that building bombs to deter the enemy was acceptable… the phrase was not properly reflected by ISCA.
In spite of everything Mujahideen Khalq claimed, Motahhari said, “The Islamic Republic has never attempted to develop nuclear bombs in policy and purpose. The Supreme Leader also issued a religious decree [fatwa] forbid them.”6 Mujahideen Khalq responded by rebroadcasting Motahhari’s original interview with ISCA on social and international media.7
Was there ever one fatwa Ban the use of nuclear weapons?
In recent years, Iran has claimed that Khamenei has a fatwa to ban the use of nuclear weapons, and he regularly repeats this point in the section of Khamenei’s website dealing with religious law issues. Towards the end there is a reference to “the holy prohibition [haram] of weapons of mass destruction”.
A section of the website presents a message from Khamenei in four languages (Farsi, Arabic, English and Spanish) to the 2011 Conference on Disarmament, stating: “We believe that besides nuclear weapons, all types of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or biological weapons , pose a serious threat to humanity…. Iran has had this experience…. We see them usage/deployment [كاربرد] from such weapons as haram and believe that everyone has an obligation to make every effort to protect the future of mankind from such a catastrophe.” The message (defined as a fatwa) was transmitted to the United Nations and officially recorded.8th
On the issue of banning the use of nuclear weapons, Khamenei also referred to the conference of the Iranian Assembly of Experts on February 22, 2021. He wrote:
“Our Islamic thinking is that weapons used to kill innocent people, rather than military personnel, are forbidden. Such weapons are prohibited, whether nuclear or chemical. Such weapons are forbidden because that is the position of Islam and because of Islam’s position we have not sought nuclear weapons; otherwise, if we wanted to, who are you, what is your role [Israel and the West]that you could prevent us.”9
In any case, Motahhari’s words amid the crisis at the Vienna nuclear talks reflect the disagreements within Iran’s military-religious leadership over the development and use of nuclear weapons, as well as the negotiating strategy in Vienna. It seems that Iran currently takes the stance of propagating Khamenei’s fatwa prohibiting it to use of nuclear weapons, but does not necessarily prohibit their further clandestine development and production for deterrence purposes.
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