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Exclusive: A Green Ayatollah’s Fatwa Against Nukes

Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford, where he is the co-director of the Iran Democracy Project. His latest book is Eminent Persian: The Men and Women who Made Modern Iran, 1941-1979 (Syracuse University Press).

There has been much debate about where Iran’s democratic protesters stand on the country’s nuclear program. In the past weeks, there have been many new indications that the green movement rejects the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb. The following fatwa by the Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri is another significant piece of evidence suggesting the movement’s repudiation.

At one time, Montazeri was tapped as the designated heir to the Ayatollah Khomeini. But his criticisms of killings and imprisonments ordered by Khomeini scuttled that ascendance. For the next two decades, he was ridiculed by the official press as "slow-witted" and "gullible" and placed under house-arrest. He has always been a remarkable man, full of honesty—and therefore, a potent critic and a source of inspiration for the regime’s opponents. If he doesn’t necessarily speak on behalf of the movement, he pretty clearly reflects it. 

This is not an official translation but my own:

In light of the scope of death and destruction they bring, and in light of the fact that such weapons cannot be used solely against an army of aggression but will invariably sacrifice the lives of innocent people, even if these innocent lives are those of future generations nuclear weapons are not permitted according to reason or Sharia. Anyway, humanity, particularly Muslims who follow the Sharia of the Seal of Prophets, and the Prophet, Praise be Upon Him, must take the lead in banning legally and practically all such weapons for all countries and in soliciting the help of respectable and dependable international organizations in guaranteeing such ban. Hosseinali Montazeri

(Click here for the untranslated fatwa.)