The problems and the possible deal with Iran on its nuclear program boil down to one word: TRUST.
In reality, there is very little trust between Tehran and the P5+1 because, if the past is a judge of the future, Iran broke whatever trust there was by crossing IAEA red lines repeatedly. In order to foster such a trust, Tehran will have to go beyond its usual denials and produce a form of commitment that will allay the fears that Iran’s nuclear program will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran.
That’s why when Rouhani points to Khamenei’s dubious “nuclear fatwa” “(fatwa = religious edict) as “the most solid proof to guarantee the peaceful nature of the Iranian program”, it only serves to increase the distrust.
The problem with the nuclear fatwa
Even if there is no doubt that Khamenei issued his oral “nuclear fatwa” prohibiting the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons, there are many doubts concerning the effectiveness of this fatwa as a binding commitment the world can trust for two specific reasons:
- There is no written version of this fatwa anywhere – not in the Iranian parliament, nor on any official site (not even Khamenei’s). Although some verbal fatwas proved to be binding, the fact that such an important fatwa is not written nor has it been passed as law by the parliament weakens its strength as a binding commitment.
- The fact that fatwas, according to Muslim law, may be rescinded by the issuer of the fatwa or by his successor without any reservations or problems further weakens the calls of Iranians to portray the fatwa as “proof” that Iran is not seeking the bomb.
Basically, if this is the most “solid proof” of Tehran’s innocence, we are in big trouble. If we add this weak link to the stream of accusations and threats reminiscent of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the word “trust” is the last to come to mind.
More reasons for mistrust
The US, “the Great Satan”, is accused regularly of everything from being the agent behind all terrorism in the Middle East (#potcallingkettleblack) for promoting Islamophobia, for creating the ebola virus, for changes in the climate etc…
The accusations, sometimes ringing true and sometimes sounding ridiculous, are backed with constant threats of “eradicating” the US’s ally in the region – Israel. Khamenei even issued a 9 point plan on how to destroy Israel.
These threats become ominous when they are backed by boasts by Khamenei, IRGC commanders, politicians and mullahs of Iran’s missile power which, if and when Iran reaches break-out point, can bring nuclear destruction to any enemy in its sights.
In the end, as long as Tehran has a nuclear program, nothing Rouhani can say or do can create enough trust to believe that it won’t lead to a nuclear bomb. Only full compliance over time can do that.
The world has to accept that no nuclear deal will magically destroy any chance for Iran to make a bomb – at best, it can only delay the break-out point.