Conclusion to Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:15)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States: Conclusions

The current efforts in the eastern U.S., including New York City, to start the enforcement of seismic building codes for new constructions are important first steps in the right direction. Similarly, the emerging efforts to include seismic rehabilitation strategies in the generally needed overhaul of the cities’ aged infrastructures such as bridges, water, sewer, power and transportation is commendable and needs to be pursued with diligence and persistence. But at the current pace of new construction replacing older buildings and lifelines, it will take many decades or a century before a major fraction of the stock of built assets will become seismically more resilient than the current inventory is. For some time, this leaves society exposed to very high seismic risks. The only consolation is that seismicity on average is low, and, hence with some luck, the earthquakes will not outpace any ongoing efforts to make eastern cities more earthquake resilient gradually. Nevertheless, M = 5 to M = 6 earthquakes at distances of tens of km must be considered a credible risk at almost any time for cities like Boston, New York or Philadelphia. M = 7 events, while possible, are much less likely; and in many respects, even if building codes will have affected the resilience of a future improved building stock, M = 7 events would cause virtually unmanageable situations. Given these bleak prospects, it will be necessary to focus on crucial elements such as maintaining access to cities by strengthening critical bridges, improving the structural and nonstructural performance of hospitals, and having a nationally supported plan how to assist a devastated region in case of a truly severe earthquake. No realistic and coordinated planning of this sort exists at this time for most eastern cities.

The current efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) via the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) to provide a standard methodology (RMS, 1994) and planning tools for making systematic, computerized loss estimates for annualized probabilistic calculations as well as for individual scenario events, is commendable. But these new tools provide only a shell with little regional data content. What is needed are the detailed data bases on inventory of buildings and lifelines with their locally specific seismic fragility properties. Similar data are needed for hospitals, shelters, firehouses, police stations and other emergency service providers. Moreover, the soil and rock conditions which control the shaking and soil liquefaction properties for any given event, need to be systematically compiled into Geographical Information System (GIS) data bases so they can be combined with the inventory of built assets for quantitative loss and impact estimates. Even under the best of conceivable funding conditions, it will take years before such data bases can be established so they will be sufficiently reliable and detailed to perform realistic and credible loss scenarios. Without such planning tools, society will remain in the dark as to what it may encounter from a future major eastern earthquake. Given these uncertainties, and despite them, both the public and private sector must develop at least some basic concepts for contingency plans. For instance, the New York City financial service industry, from banks to the stock and bond markets and beyond, ought to consider operational contingency planning, first in terms of strengthening their operational facilities, but also for temporary backup operations until operations in the designated facilities can return to some measure of normalcy. The Federal Reserve in its oversight function for this industry needs to take a hard look at this situation.

A society, whose economy depends increasingly so crucially on rapid exchange of vast quantities of information must become concerned with strengthening its communication facilities together with the facilities into which the information is channeled. In principle, the availability of satellite communication (especially if self-powered) with direct up and down links, provides here an opportunity that is potentially a great advantage over distributed buried networks. Distributed networks for transportation, power, gas, water, sewer and cabled communication will be expensive to harden (or restore after an event).

In all future instances of major capital spending on buildings and urban infrastructures, the incorporation of seismically resilient design principles at all stages of realization will be the most effective way to reduce society’s exposure to high seismic risks. To achieve this, all levels of government need to utilize legislative and regulatory options; insurance industries need to build economic incentives for seismic safety features into their insurance policy offerings; and the private sector, through trade and professional organizations’ planning efforts, needs to develop a healthy self-protective stand. Also, the insurance industry needs to invest more aggressively into broadly based research activities with the objective to quantify the seismic hazards, the exposed assets and their seismic fragilities much more accurately than currently possible. Only together these combined measures may first help to quantify and then reduce our currently untenably large seismic risk exposures in the virtually unprepared eastern cities. Given the low-probability/high-impact situation in this part of the country, seismic safety planning needs to be woven into both the regular capital spending and daily operational procedures. Without it we must be prepared to see little progress. Unless we succeed to build seismic safety considerations into everyday decision making as a normal procedure of doing business, society will lose the race against the unstoppable forces of nature. While we never can entirely win this race, we can succeed in converting unmitigated catastrophes into manageable disasters, or better, tolerable natural events.

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Becoming a Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

US, Russia & France Are ‘Pushing’ Germany Towards Nukes; Berlin Drafting Its 1st Ever National Security Strategy

ByEurAsian Times Desk

November 21, 2022

Among its other fallouts, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has energized the Atlantic Alliance (Europe on one side of the Ocean and the US on the other) like never before in the post–Cold War era. Some pundits say that the alliance under the United States’ leadership may have reached its peak.

But at the same time, the two foremost powers of Europe – France and Germany – seem very particular about the importance of “strategic autonomy” and lessening Europe’s dependence on the US for its security by building the prowess of their militaries.

And here, the significant trend is the growing recognition of the need to develop and strengthen “European Nuclear Weapons.”

The capture of the US House of Representatives by the Republicans and the announcement of former President Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2024 have further strengthened this trend of ‘autonomy’ in both Germany and France.

They are mindful of the Trump Presidency’s repeated admonishment to European countries for not sharing enough for their security at the cost of American taxpayers.

As Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations, apprehends, the Republicans will again ask why Americans should pay more than Ukraine’s neighbors.

All told, while the US has already spent billions of dollars and is committed to more than $40 billion in military aid for Ukraine, Europe has pledged only half that.

French President Macron’s Stance For The Nation’s Future

Against this backdrop, one may see the timing of French President Emmanuel Macron’s unveiling on November 9 of France’s “national strategic review,” meant to define how the country’s defense will look in 2030.

Macron said France wants to be an “independent, respected, agile power at the heart of European strategic autonomy” with strong links to the Atlantic alliance.

He added that France wanted to focus on boosting the European Union’s defense capacity building, lessening the dependence of the bloc of 27 nations’ security dependence on the US and NATO.

Of course, Macron has consistently argued the above theme of Europe building its strength. After interviewing him, the Economist magazine wrote, “Europe has become dependent on others for too much—from its ability to innovate to military heft and even food.

In a world led by unreliable folk like Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, that set his nerves jangling. Europe, in Mr. Macron’s jargon, needs strategic autonomy. That pitch for greater sovereignty encompasses everything from more defense spending to Europe coming up with its tech giants and much else besides.”

Importantly, in his “national strategic review,” the French President has insisted that a “credible, modern” nuclear deterrence is the key. After BREXIT, France became the only EU country with nuclear weapons. “Our nuclear forces contribute through their existence to the security of France and Europe,” he said.

But, and it is exceptionally significant, Macron also made it clear that “a potential nuclear ballistic attack from Russia in the region would not bring any nuclear response from Paris.” He said that France’s doctrine “is based on what we call the fundamental interests of the nation. They would not at all be at stake” in such a situation.

In other words, Macron says that the French nuclear weapons are for France only. And this, in turn, seems to have revived a debate in Germany about developing a nuclear deterrent of its own.

This is an issue that few in Germany wanted to discuss until recently, given its history and aversion to all things nuclear. All the more so after the 2021 general elections that ended a 16-year-long streak of conservative governments under Angela Merkel.

The country today has a government of a broad coalition of three parties from the left and the right – the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens. Both the SPD and the Left Greens, particularly the latter, are big-time votaries of nuclear disarmament and the closure of even civilian nuclear plants.

The last time it was in the government (1988), the Greens party had argued strongly to replace NATO with a European peace order. Even during election campaigns last year, the Greens had proposed a Germany free of nuclear weapons.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed all that. The German government, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), has not only pledged to spend at least two percent of a country’s gross domestic product for defense purposes but also supported the sharing of NATO’s nuclear weaponry on German soil.

Germany Leans Toward Nuclear Weapons

Reportedly, the German government is now drafting a first-ever national security strategy, which is expected to be made public early next year, and will talk of retaining a credible nuclear deterrence through Germany’s NATO membership.

The public debate at present in Germany also shows that as the international security environment deteriorates, military options and new nuclear armaments are becoming more attractive among political leaders.

Even otherwise, in a June 2022 poll, most interviewees supported hosting US nuclear weapons in Germany. This starkly contrasted with previous years when many Germans in polls favored removing these weapons from the country.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Of course, under the previous German government of Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), there were calls for a “Euro-deterrent” (independent of US nuclear weapons through NATO).

The leading defense expert of the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag, Roderich Kiesewetter, made this case. And Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker and foreign policy spokesman with then Germany’s ruling party, had elaborated this line of thinking.

This “Euro deterrent” by its advocates did not necessarily mean that Germany would make nuclear weapons in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). It meant supporting and financing those European countries that already had nuclear weapons – France and the United Kingdom.

“My idea is to build on the existing weapons in Great Britain and France,” Kiesewetter argued while acknowledging that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union could preclude its participation.

Kiesewetter’s thesis had four ingredients: “a French pledge to commit its weapons to a common European defense, German financing to demonstrate the program’s collective nature, a joint command, and a plan to place French warheads in other European countries.”

This thesis of a “Euro-deterrent,” provided by the French strategic forces, is being reasserted today by Friedrich Merz, the leader of the CDU. His party colleague and head of the conservative European People’s Party in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, has even proposed that Germany fund the French “force de frappe.”

However, the problem with the German idea of a “Euro-deterrent” has met a significant setback, and that is the irony, with the latest French national strategic review and President Macron’s announcement that the French deterrent is there to protect and defend French territory, and does not extend to its European partners.

And this, in turn, may lead to the revival of the public demand that the country should have its nuclear weapons. Germany had a discussion in the late 1960s about whether it should have a nuclear force, something that then Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had strongly advocated.

As Stephen F Szabo, Adjunct Professor at the BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University, and author of “Germany, Russia and the Rise of Geo-economics,” writes, “A nuclear North Korea, a nuclear-curious Iran, and the prospect of Japan and South Korea becoming nuclear powers begs the question: Why should Germany stay behind given its power and centrality to European security?”

A pertinent question, indeed!

  • Author and veteran journalist Prakash Nanda has been commenting on politics, foreign policy on strategic affairs for nearly three decades. A former National Fellow of the Indian Council for Historical Research and recipient of the Seoul Peace Prize Scholarship, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Obama Deal Fails: Daniel 8

Iran Media Looks Beyond Nuclear Deal As Negotiations ‘Fail’

Thursday, 11/24/20223 minutes

Author: Iran International Newsroom

With nuclear talks frozen and the US and Europe levying further sanctions, Iranian commentators are looking at life under permanent US ‘maximum pressure.’

IRNA, the official news agency, November 24 portrayed Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear program since 2019 as a series of responses to United States, Israeli or European actions – beginning 2018 with the US “covenant-breaking” in leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), and imposing ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions.

Iran’s announcement Tuesday that it was enriching uranium to 60 percent at the Fordow site was yet another “reaction to the excesses of the West,” IRNA argued, just as enrichment to 60 percent at Natanz, another nuclear site, in April came in response to “sabotage actions” at the site attributed to Israel.

In fact, Iran decided to start 60-percent enrichment in early 2021 just as the new US administration had announced its readiness to return to the JCPOA and talks in Vienna were about to begin.

Tehran announced the latest move as a reply to a resolution raised by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States passed November 17 at the board of the 37-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US and ‘E3’ had “tied a technical and legal case…to events inside the country and protests turned into riots,” IRNA argued. “The troika of Europe and the United States stopped the nuclear talks under the pretext of unrest inside Iran.”

Casting further doubts on talks, IRNA argued, was the looming return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu, which it suggested would “definitely intensify…the Zionist regime’s delusional claims against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

‘Impasse’ in diplomacy

Separately, Fararu, a privately owned news agency, carried a discussion with Hosseini Kanani-Moghadam, head of Iran’s conservatively-inclined Green Party, and Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat who has for some time been pessimistic over the JCPOA.

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran's chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Ali Bagheri-Kani Iran’s chief negotiator in Vienna talks on August 4, 2022

Majlesi argued that “the West” had long given up hope of negotiating with Iran and sought to re-use tactics that had undermined the Soviet Union. “Western countries,” he said, had judged that President Ebrahim Raisi’s government, which took office in 2021, inclined against the JCPOA with ministers asking why Iran accepted nuclear restrictions while gaining nothing from the agreement.

The result was an “impasse” in diplomatic efforts to restore the JCPOA – an impression confirmed, Majlesi said, by the French president and Canadian prime minister recently meeting “supporters of subversion in our country,” a reference to exiled activists and social-media ‘influencers.’ This accelerated an “agenda against Iran” over “recent years” that had “led to significant economic pressures” aimed at “impoverishing Iran.”

Kanani-Moghadam argued that Iran retained political levers “in the event of the escalation of hostile policies,” including “complete withdrawal from the JCPOA” (presumably ending all nuclear restrictions but staying within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), or even leaving the NPT.

Bagheri-Kani in India: Focus on economy

Post-JCPOA thinking were also evident in discussions during the visit to India of Ali Bagheri-Kani, deputy Iranian foreign minister and leading nuclear negotiator. While IRNA Thursday reported Bagheri-Kani attacking “the atmosphere created by some western media regarding the developments in Iran,” its focus was business.

While Bagheri-Kani’s brief as one of five deputy ministers is politics, his interview with Asia International News Agency(ANI) also focused on economics, and how commerce might continue should US ‘maximum pressure’ last. ANI noted that bilateral trade had risen 46 percent between 2011-12 and 2019-20.

While criticizing the US for disrupting world energy security with sanctions against Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, Bagheri-Kani highlighted potential for Iran to help India over energy in return for food exports, presumably through barter or non-dollar arrangements. He also stressed that India’s project for developing Chabahar port, in Sistan-Baluchistan province, was continuing.

New Delhi has been slow to develop the port in fear of US punitive action under ‘maximum pressure.’ Once a major buyer of Iranian oil, India has grown increasingly frustrated at Washington’s approach. It abstained, along with Pakistan, at the recent vote condemning Iran at the IAEA board.

Iraq Pushes Back the Iranian Horn: Daniel 8

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani during a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, Iran Nov. 29, 2022. (Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout)

New Iraqi Prime Minister Tells Iran’s Supreme Leader that Baghdad Will Stop Attacks Against It

November 30, 2022 10:14 PM

Iraq’s new prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, met Iran’s top leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his first important trip abroad since being named to head the government by the Iraqi parliament.

Sudani told journalists in Tehran after meeting Khamenei, that Iraq would not allow any attacks on its neighbor from inside its territory and that its security forces are being deployed along the two countries’ common border.

He said that his government is committed to enforcing the Iraqi constitution and preventing any groups or parties from damaging Iran’s security and that Iraq’s national security advisor will meet with his Iranian counterpart to coordinate operations on the ground.

Sudani added that Iraq considers dialogue and mutual comprehension to be the best policy to solve problems on the ground.


Iran Bolsters Border Security to Prevent ‘Infiltration’

Hussein Allawi, a top adviser to the Iraqi prime minister, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that Sudani’s top priorities in his meetings with Iran’s leaders are to have detailed and sincere talks that will not drag out for a long period of time that cover the issues of Iran cutting off the flow of water to Iraq and Iran’s recent bombardment of Iraqi territory.

The prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan visited Baghdad recently to meet with Sudani and coordinate the deployment of Iraqi security forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along Iran’s border to prevent any infiltration or attacks on Iran and any further Iranian military response to such attacks.

Iraqi media reported that Sudani also discussed Iran’s supplying of gas and electricity to Iraq, in addition to trade issues and joint oil and gas exploration along the two country’s border.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that relations between Iraq and Iran are in total disequilibrium and that Prime Minister Sudani is a political ally of Iran who is going to Tehran to give an account of his government’s actions.

He said that Iran worked to have Sudani named prime minister even though allies of the Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won parliamentary elections. He said they allegedly threatened Sadr and his family, which lives in Iran, to desist from choosing a prime minister, so that Iran could have influence over the government in Baghdad. Sudani, he argued, is visiting Iran like a favorite son returning home.

Abou Diab stressed that Iraq has absolutely no leverage in its dealings with Iran and will have to accept whatever Iran decides, due to the totally unbalanced relations between the two countries, both economically and politically.

Iranian media reported that Vice President Mohammad Mokhber told Sudani that countries in the region must solve their security problems among themselves, rather than resorting to outside parties. Iranian officials have made similar statements in the past.

Palestine: Hamas warns against Israeli attacks outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

 Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Palestine: Hamas warns against Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa mosque

He further stressed that the threats from Ben-Gvir will fail like all of the attempts by his predecessors, who tried to amend occupied Jerusalem to hide the “real history and original religious identity” of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

 News Desk|   Posted by Mohammed Baleegh  |   Published: 29th November 2022 5:22 pm IST

Hamas on November 27 warned Palestinians of an attack on Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli forces. The organisation’s spokesperson Abdul Latif Al-Qanou made the statement following a pledge by Israeli far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir MK, the leader of Otzma Yehudit party, to change the status quo at the mosque.

“The threats of extremist Ben-Gvir, who has been named as Israel’s new Minister of Interior Security, to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque prove once again that the upcoming Israeli government has neo-fascist tendencies,” said Al-Qanou.

He further stressed that the threats from Ben-Gvir will fail like all of the attempts by his predecessors, who tried to amend occupied Jerusalem to hide the “real history and original religious identity” of Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Hamas spokesperson reiterated that the group would continue to strive for freedom from the Israeli occupation, Middle East Monitor reported.

Khamenei’s “Nuclear Fatwa,” Once Again

November 29, 2022 | By A. Savyon, Y. Carmon, and Ze’ev B. Begin*

Iran | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 433

In a new book titled Religion and Nuclear Weapons, A Study of Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan  (Vij Books India Pvt Ltd, 2022, 120 pp.), Dr. Shameer Modongal of Kerala University and Professor Seyed Hossein Mousavian of Princeton University lay out a detailed argument that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. Professor Mousavian has some experience in this issue, as he was spokesperson for Iran in its nuclear negotiations with the International Community in 2003-2005 and foreign policy advisor to the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2005-2007.

The authors begin in an academic and methodical manner, with general descriptions of various political science models that explain why some states choose to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Next is a learned discussion of the role of religion in shaping states’ national security policies, and a very detailed focus on statements by Iranian clerics and a discussion of the Iranian theocracy’s policy on WMDs. The authors’ reasoning is based on the decisive role played by religious edicts (fatwas) in the decisions of the Islamic Iranian regime. Asserting that the development, acquisition and use of WMDs are forbidden in Islam, they then discuss how Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s alleged anti-nuclear weapons fatwa is legally binding upon Iran’s theocracy and would completely prevent Iranian attempts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

In a detailed rebuttal to those who doubt the existence of the fatwa, Modogal and Mousavian acknowledge that there is no such written fatwa (p. 69) but argue that “this concern is not significant considering the position of Ayatollah Khamenei and the publicity of his statements. As far as the legitimacy of a fatwa in concerned, it is not necessary to be issued in written form. It has been a practice since early times to issue oral fatwas, and it may be written down by those who heard them. The statements of Ayatollah Khamenei have also been reported by those who heard it. His statements against nuclear weapons have been published on his personal website.”

What the authors do not clarify is how one might distinguish between a political declaration in a speech by the Supreme Leader as head of state and a formal and binding religious edict that is considered a fatwa that he issues as the supreme religious authority. If Khamenei’s statements against Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons have indeed been published on his personal website, it would be strange for him, a jurisprudent, to have consistently refrained from taking one more step and publishing it on one of his two sites in which  his fatwas appear in their traditional format. That format is a specific question addressed to the jurisprudent and, in response, his ruling on it, based on religious arguments.

With this question looming above their discussion, the authors conclude that “the position and power of Ayatollah Khamenei ensure the long-lasting of this religious position of Iran [banning acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran] without being challenged by other scholars…” (p.71). However, they fail to mention that it was Khamenei himself who explained, in writing, that his position on Iranian nuclear weaponry is not based on religion. On March 15, 2012, the following question was submitted to Khamenei via Facebook by an Iranian opposition group called Cheragh-e Azadi (“The Light of Freedom”):

“Question:Your Excellency has announced a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, and considering that nuclear weapons are a requirement for deterrence and that the aim of obtaining them is to intimidate the enemies in order to prevent them from acting aggressively, and in light of what is written in Surat Al-Anfal, Verse 60 […] is it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?”

Khamenei’s response, also on Facebook, was brief: “Answer: Your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.” The exchange was concluded by a “Summary: No answer was given.”[1]

Nine years later, on February 22, 2021, Khamenei tweeted a less cautious message in English: “Iran is not after nuclear weapons. But it’s [sic] nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either. It will enrich Uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country. Iran’s enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.” It is well known, though, that there are no civilian purposes for which a country needs uranium enriched to more than 20%; 60% is the enrichment level required to fuel nuclear submarines.[2]

A year later, on March 10, 2022, addressing Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Khamenei referred to nuclear weapons as “an arm of power” and explained: “The nuclear issue is […] about scientific progress and our future technology. […] People are talking about making concessions to America or to others in order to become immune to the sanctions. This means severing this arm of our policy and [giving up] this bargaining chip […] I believe that these [compromises] are mistakes. If, over the years, the people who want to chop off some of those arms of power had been given permission to do so, our country would be facing great danger today.”[3] This position is in line with Khamenei’s ridicule, in his March 20, 2011 Persian New Year address, of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi for handing over his nuclear installations to the U.S.: “This gentleman wrapped up all his nuclear facilities, packed them on a ship, and delivered them to the West and said, ‘Take them!’ Look in what position our nation is, and in what position they [the Libyans] are now.”[4]  

The New Iranian Talk About Iran’s Need For Nuclear Weapons

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 sparked a surge of blunt Iranian talk, including depictions of Iran’s future nuclear weapons as essential to Iranian national security.[5] Iranian Majlis (parliament) member Mohammad Ka’ab Amir said on February 26, 2022: “Ukraine is an example from which the supporters of the West and the East must learn. We must insist on the nuclear rights of the Iranian people […] so Iran will be strong, with nuclear and military might.” On the same day, the daily mouthpiece of the Iranian regime, Kayhan, wrote: “A close look at the dimensions of the Ukraine crisis and the world’s response to it indicates very clearly why the leader of the [Iranian] Revolution [Khamenei] has stressed the issue of building strength on every level, and has firmly opposed any concession regarding factors that guarantee the country’s [ability to defend its] security on its own, without relying on others.” Two days later, it clarified: “An important lesson of the Ukrainian war is that, in order to dispel threats, one must be strong. Disarming and handing over one’s sources of strength is the deadliest mistake…” Similarly, Passive Defense Organization head, Gen. Gholamreza Jalali said on March 6, 2022: “One of [Ukraine’s] mistakes was that although it is one of the world’s nuclear powers, it transferred all its nuclear facilities and capabilities to Europe in exchange for European security and support.”

Continuing in this series of open statements, Dr. Mahmoud-Reza Aghamiri, head of the nuclear engineering department at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, spoke candidly to an audience on April 9, 2022, saying: “Today, you have deterrence capability. What does this mean? It means you can raise your uranium enrichment level to 99% within a very short period of time. You have the power, if needed, to ‘let off control’ the nuclear fission. In other words, you can install it on a warhead and let it do whatever it wants […] It is natural to have the power, the might, and the capabilities that would make your enemy succumb to your demands in the negotiations.”

Kamal Kharrazi, former Iranian foreign minister (1997-2005) and currently a foreign policy advisor to Khamenei as well as chairman of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said in a July 17, 2022 interview on Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV: “It is no secret that we have become a nuclear threshold country. This is the reality. This is a fact. It is no secret that we have the required technological capabilities to produce a nuclear bomb. But we do not want that and have not decided to do so. In the past, we raised the level of uranium enrichment from 20% to 60% in a matter of days. We can simply raise this level to 90%.”[6]

The Nuclear Fatwa Legend – Where Did It Come From?

In view of these statements, one may wonder where the legend of a binding, anti-nuclear fatwa issued by Khamenei came from. The following account shows its trivial origin. On November 15, 2004, in Paris, Iran signed an agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom in which it declared that “it does not and will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons.” It also undertook to “continue and extend its suspension to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities.” In return, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors decided not to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council.

To reach this agreement, Iran’s then-chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, who would later become Iranian president, sought an argument that would win the confidence of the Europeans, and decided to make use of a Friday sermon that Khamenei had delivered in Tehran on November 5, 2004, 10 days before the Paris agreement was signed. Years later, in a television interview with the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service that aired in May 2012, Rouhani claimed that Khamenei had “talked about the fatwa” in his sermon. However, Khamenei had only said in the sermon that “nuclear weapons, their production, storage and use – each of these is problematic. We have also expressed our jurisprudential opinion. It is clear, and everyone knows [it].” In other words, in his sermon Khamenei had neither issued a fatwa nor used the religious term “haram” (“forbidden”) – he had merely called nuclear weapons “problematic.”

In this 2012 interview, Rouhani exposed his trick, stating: “That was when we were on the verge of the Paris Agreement. The European troika emphasized [the need for] strong guarantees [to not develop nuclear weapons] […] I told the three European ministers that they should know about two explicit guarantees from our side, one of which is the fatwa of the Supreme Leader [who] declared the production of nuclear weapons haram [forbidden]. This fatwa is more important to us than the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and its Additional Protocol, more important than any other law.” Asked whether he brought the matter up after previous consultations Rouhani answered: “it occurred to me right there to bring it up.”[7] Thus, on the spur of the moment, the “nuclear fatwa” was diplomatically birthed. Responding to the next question, Rouhani said that the Iranian government had even considered making the “fatwa” into a law, because the Europeans “were saying that if [the fatwa] becomes the law, it would eliminate the West’s concerns. […] This was a confidence-building measure for the West.” It is thus clear that the legend of the “nuclear fatwa” was the result of Rouhani’s 2004 cunning political move.

Finally, a surprise: Despite the learned content of his new book Religion and Nuclear Weapons, and its emphasis on the binding nature of the “nuclear fatwa,” Professor Mousavian warned in a recent article (emphasis added): “If Western powers try to corner Iran and reinstate UN-led sanctions, Tehran would likely withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Any military strike by Israel or the U.S. would likely then push Iran towards building a nuclear weapon.”[8]

* Ayelet Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Yigal Carmon is MEMRI Founder and President; Ze’ev B. Begin is a Senior Fellow at MEMRI.