On Tuesday Iran continued to counter the western-driven narrative that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, stating that a religious decree that forbids nuclear weapons was "binding."
Referring to a 2005 religious decree (fatwa) from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei forbidding the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons, Iranian Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told press on Tuesday, "There is nothing higher than the exalted supreme leader’s fatwa to define the framework for our activities in the nuclear field."
"When the highest jurist and authority in the country’s leadership issues a fatwa, this will be binding for all of us to follow."
"We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons," he added.
Khameini repeated the message of the 2005 fatwa in a February 2012 speech, stating:
Nuclear weapons are not at all beneficial to us. Moreover, from an ideological and fiqhi perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin. We also believe that keeping such weapons is futile and dangerous, and we will never go after them. They know this, but they stress the issue in order to stop our movement.
We want to prove to the world that nuclear weapons do not bring about power. This is because the nuclear powers are suffering from the biggest problems today. They dominated the world through nuclear threats, but today such threats are no longer effective. We want to say that we are not after nuclear weapons, that we do not believe nuclear weapons bring about power and that we can break the kind of power that is based on nuclear weapons. By Allah's favor, our nation will do this.
Middle East analyst Juan Cole points out that Khameini has repeated this anti-nuclear weapons message numerous times.
As the International Atomic Energy Agency is in Iran this week for talks on investigating the country's nuclear program, the western sanctions imposed against Iran for its purported nuclear weapons program continue to take a toll on ordinary citizens of the country.