Imam Khomeini strongly opposed developing nukes

Imam Khomeini strongly opposed developing nukes

The founder of the Islamic Republic showed his great opposition to manufacturing of any kind of Weapons of mass destructions (WMD) or nuclear arsenals even for defensive purposes.

Gareth Porter, a famous author and writer, says the founder of the Islamic Republic repeatedly had rejected any possibility of developing such destructive weapons. 

The author cites to an exclusive interview through which a top Iranian official says that Imam Khomeini personally stopped him from building Iran's WMD program.

 The key to understanding Iran's policy toward nuclear weapons lies in a historical episode during its eight-year imposed war with Iraq.

The story, told in full for the first time, explains why Iran never retaliated against Iraq's chemical weapons attacks on Iranian troops and civilians, which killed 20,000 Iranians and severely injured 100,000 more.

And it strongly suggests that the Iranian leadership's aversion to developing chemical and nuclear weapons is deep-rooted and sincere.

 A few Iranian sources have previously pointed to a fatwa by the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, prohibiting chemical weapons as the explanation for why Iran did not deploy th0ese weapons during the war with Iraq.

A wartime commander of the Iranian ministry responsible for military procurement has provided an eyewitness account of Imam Khomeini's ban not only on chemical weapons, but on nuclear weapons as well.

 In an interview with me in Tehran in late September, Mohsen Rafighdoost, who served as minister of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the eight-year war, revealed that he had proposed to Imam Khomeini that Iran begin working on both nuclear and chemical weapons -- but was told in two separate meetings that weapons of mass destruction are forbidden by Islam.

I sought the interview with Rafighdoost after learning of an interview he had with Mehr News Agency in January in which he alluded to the wartime meetings with Imam Khomeini and the founder of the Islamic Republic’s forbidding chemical and nuclear weapons, Gareth Porter stated.

"I personally gathered all the researchers who had any knowledge of defense issues," he recalled. He organized groups of specialists to work on each category of military need -- one of which was called "chemical, biological, and nuclear."

 Rafighdoost prepared a report on all the specialized groups he had formed and went to discuss it with Imam Khomeini, hoping to get his approval for work on chemical and nuclear weapons.

 The founder of the Islamic Republic met him accompanied only by his son, Seyyed Ahmad, who served as chief of staff, according to Rafighdoost. "When Imam Khomeini read the report, he reacted to the chemical-biological-nuclear team by asking, ‘What is this?'" Rafighdoost recalled.

Imam Khomeini ruled out development of chemical and biological weapons as inconsistent with Islam. "Imam told me that, instead of producing chemical or biological weapons, we should produce defensive protection for our troops, like gas masks and atropine," Rafighdoost said.

"Imam told me that, instead of producing chemical or biological weapons, we should produce defensive protection for our troops, like gas masks and atropine," Rafighdoost said.

"We don't want to produce nuclear weapons," Rafighdoost recalls the founder of the Islamic Republic telling him.

Imam Khomeini instructed him instead to "send these scientists to the Atomic Energy Organization," referring to Iran's civilian nuclear-power agency. That edict from Khomeini ended the idea of seeking nuclear weapons, according to Rafighdoost.

The chemical-warfare issue took a new turn in late June 1987, when Iraqi aircraft bombed four residential areas of Sardasht, an ethnically Kurdish city in Iran, with what was believed to be mustard gas. It was the first time Iran's civilian population had been targeted by Iraqi forces with chemical weapons, and the population was completely unprotected. Of 12,000 inhabitants, 8,000 were exposed, and hundreds died.

The founder of the Islamic Republic was unmoved by the new danger presented by the Iraqi gas attacks on civilians. "It doesn't matter whether it is on the battlefield or in cities; we are against this," he told Rafighdoost. "It is haram [forbidden] to produce such weapons. You are only allowed to produce protection."

Imam Khomeini also repeated his edict forbidding work on nuclear weapons, telling him, "Don't talk about nuclear weapons at all." Rafighdoost understood Imam Khomeini's prohibition on the use or production of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons as a fatwa -- a judgment on Islamic jurisprudence by a qualified Islamic scholar. It was never written down or formalized, but that didn't matter, because it was issued by the "guardian jurist" of the Islamic state -- and was therefore legally binding on the entire government.

Iran argues that it has rejected nuclear weapons as incompatible with Islam and cites a fatwa of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei as proof.

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