One of the main talking points for apologists for Iran recently has been the claim that Supreme Leader Ali Khameini banned the production of nuclear weapons as a sin. This is supposed to calm the nerves of those who fear allowing the Islamist regime nuclear capability and has been accepted by President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and other world leaders as a fact. But as Ruthie Blum points out in her column in Israel Hayom, the fatwa is a fake.

Blum reports that the indispensable Middle East media monitoring group has examined the assertion that Iran has foresworn the development of nukes as a religious imperative and found that the fatwa is a myth. Khameini never issued such a ruling, and there is no record of it ever having been published except in a statement issued in 2005 by the Iranians during a meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency. This story has been revived recently–largely by Turkey, Iran’s off and on Islamist ally–but:

MEMRI’s investigation reveals that no such fatwa ever existed or was ever issued or published, and that media reports about it are nothing more than a propaganda ruse on the part of the Iranian regime apparatuses – in an attempt to deceive top U.S. administration officials and the others mentioned above.

This is not a minor point because, as Blum points out, the talk about the fatwa facilitates a dead-end P5+1 negotiating process that will “ make Western leaders feel better about letting precious time run out while the Islamic Republic races to reach nuclear hegemony.”

The Iranians are past masters at playing Western diplomats for suckers with negotiations that never come to fruition and reassurances about their good intentions only a fool would trust. As Blum rightly notes, Islamist theorists such as Khameini see this sort of deception as a legitimate tactic of self-defense. But there is no excuse for the Obama administration to take any of it seriously.

While the president continues, as I noted earlier today, to say the right thing about Iran, the real test of his conduct is not rhetorical. Current U.S. policy supports a diplomatic process that seems certain to not merely fail to stop the Iranians but to actually facilitate their ongoing nuclear development. Myths such as the fake fatwa help feed the rationale for the president’s position. The State Department and the White House need to understand that the consequences for buying into this lie are potentially catastrophic.

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