Speaking to reporters about Iran’s nuclear program before the weekend talks in Istanbul, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “We’re looking for concrete results,” and continued, “They assert that their program is purely peaceful. They point to a fatwa that the supreme leader has issued against the pursuit of nuclear weapons. We want them to demonstrate clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition.”

Secretary Clinton must take this argument seriously, because she has been looking into the fatwa very closely. According to the Daily Telegraph,

Clinton revealed that she has been studying Khamenei’s fatwa, saying that she has discussed it with religious scholars, other experts and with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “If it is indeed a statement of principle, of values, then it is a starting point for being operationalized,” Clinton said.

EU diplomats also took notice of Iranian emphasis on the fatwa:

“One of the diplomats, who demanded anonymity because he was sharing information from a closed session, said the Iranians appeared to be moving toward that goal, engaging in discussion about the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He said the Iranian team had mentioned supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwa, or prohibition, of nuclear weapons for Iran, in the course of the plenary discussions.”

As Jonathan Tobin discussed yesterday, a delegation of 12 Iranian nuclear scientists attended the North Korea’s failed missile test at the same time that the chief nuclear negotiator in Istanbul was proclaiming Iran’s religious commitment to non-proliferation. So what were they doing there? Verifying how compatible is their leader’s fatwa with a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead?

Secretary Clinton and all other parties involved should judge the Iranians by their actions. They speak for themselves. The fatwa is a ruse – one that clearly just won Tehran another five weeks of quiet.


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