According to Obama:

Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.

However, according to a Middle East Media Research Institute report entitled Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec'y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei:

However, an investigation by MEMRI reveals that no such fatwa ever existed or was ever published, and that media reports about it are nothing more than a propaganda ruse on the part of the Iranian regime apparatuses – in an attempt to deceive top U.S. administration officials and the others mentioned above.

Did Khamenei issue a fatwa banning development of nuclear weapons?

Here are some news story about this supposed fatwa:



  • Note that MEMRI is a rather biased source: It is an Israeli media monitoring group which, feeds media outlets with tidbits from Arab (and perhaps Farsi) mass media which supposedly discredit states, parties or individuals who are perceived as negative or hostile to the Israeli regime.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


From what I understand (which may be limited since I don't speak or read Farsi), Khamenei issued a fatwa according to the Asia Times (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HC17Ak02.html) but it can't be found in print as it was only delivered in oral form (http://www.fpri.org/article/2015/05/schrodingers-nuke-how-irans-nuclear-weapons-program-exists-and-doesnt-exist-at-the-same-time/). Of additional concern is analysis (see the FPRI article as well as the Washington Post's article at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2013/11/27/did-irans-supreme-leader-issue-a-fatwa-against-the-development-of-nuclear-weapons/?utm_term=.c32d5d9737b4) that calls into question the fatwa's 'ban' of nuclear weapons. Apparently while it stated that such indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction (which explosive nuclear weapons are generally considered to be) were not good, it didn't directly address the idea that given certain circumstances normally forbidden methods can allowed.

Bottom line, it appears that Khamenei, as Ayatollah, did issue an oral fatwa around 2003 dealing with the development, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons. What is less clear are the implications of that fatwa given a lack of text that can be examined or accurately translated and the historical lack of permanence given to the some of the the fatwas in the past.

  • Just realized that this question is three years old. Ooops.
    – John Ice
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 18:11
  • 5
    There's nothing wrong with answering old questions, especially if they're unanswered (or the answers aren't correct, of low quality, or could be enhanced by new information).
    – Cubic
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 23:36
  • Yes , this fatwa is available on his official website. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 10:14

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