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‘Atomic weapons against Islam,’ says Ahmadinejad as Israel warns world powers not to waver in Iran talks

By Al Arabiya & AFP | 23 May 2012

Islam forbids atomic weapons and other arms of mass destruction, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Wednesday ahead of his country’s nuclear talks with world powers in Baghdad, as Israel urged world powers not to waver in key talks with Iran.

“Based on Islamic teachings and the clear fatwa (edict) of the supreme leader, the production and use of weapons of mass destruction is haram (forbidden) and have no place in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defense doctrine,” he said.

Ahmadinejad’s message was read out at a conference in the western city of Borujerd to commemorate Iranian victims of chemical weapons during a 1980-1988 war against Iraq, the official news agency IRNA reported.

World powers were to hold crunch talks in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday with Iran to try to persuade Tehran to suspend sensitive nuclear work.

Ahmadinejad’s mention of a fatwa against nuclear weapons by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referred to an edict which officials say he laid down in either 2004 or 2005.

Though no published fatwa exists, Iranian scholars point out that declarations by prominent ayatollahs can later take on the weight of a fatwa.

Khamenei has spoken out against nuclear weapons on several occasions, most recently on Feb. 22 when he said that possessing an atomic bomb “constitutes a major sin.”

“The Iranian nation has never been seeking an atomic weapon and never will be,” while developing nuclear energy was in Iran's interest, he said.

The United States has seized on Khamenei’s stance as a possible basis to resolve the dangerous standoff with Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month that Iranian officials “point to a fatwa that the supreme leader has issued against the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

World powers expect Tehran to back up that position by demonstrating “clearly in the actions they propose that they have truly abandoned any nuclear weapons ambition,” she said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged world powers not to waver in key talks with Iran on Wednesday, warning that any failure to halt enrichment would see Tehran obtain a nuclear weapon.

“In Baghdad, we must watch out that partial concessions do not allow Iran to avoid a tightening of sanctions,” he said, just hours before the start of a second round of talks between Tehran and six world powers in the Iraqi capital.

“Without strengthening the current painful sanctions, Iran will continue towards a nuclear capability,” the defense minister told Israel’s public radio.

“We must not blink, give up or capitulate until the very last minute,” he said.

“If they let them continue, Iran will keep on enriching uranium from 20 percent to 60 percent and 90 percent and they really will get a nuclear weapon. I don’t know exactly when but it will happen,” he warned.

“Now is the time for the entire world to stop them,” said Barak.

A day ahead of the second round, U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said his agency was poised to ink a deal with Tehran, in a move which was greeted with deep suspicion by Israel, which sees Iran's willingness to talk as a ploy to win an easing of sanctions and to gain more time for enrichment.

Israel has also poured scorn on the P5+1 talks, with Barak deriding its demands of Tehran as “minimalist” and saying they would never be enough to make Iran halt its nuclear program.



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