Did Iran’s supreme leader issue a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons?

Oddly, the Iranian Web site does not provide the text of the original fatwa—and then mostly cites Western news reports as evidence that Khamenei has reiterated it on several occasions. The fatwa does not appear to be written, but in the Shiite tradition equal weight is given to oral and written opinions.

The most definitive written account of the fatwa appears in a statement that an Iranian official read at an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2005: “The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”

But Khalaji also documents an interesting evolution in Khamenei’s statements over time. Whereas in 2005 Khamenei said that the “production of an atomic bomb is not on our agenda,” more recent statements have focused on use of nuclear weapons, often dropping references to the “development” of such weapons.