Monthly Archives: November 2013

Zarif on Iran Chemical Weapons Program

Now that I can sorta breathe again, I’m recapitulating this post because I think it’s perhaps taken on new relevance.

Iran’s current FM Javad Zarif co-authored an article about Iran’s experience with the CWC which was published in the 1999-2000 issue of the Iranian Journal of International Affairs. At the time, I said that I didn’t know what Zarif was doing and I can’t say I anticipated that he’d be in his current line of work.

Anyway, these authors argued that Iran gave up its chemical weapons program partly because “Iranian religious leadership found it very difficult to condone the use of these weapons, even as reprisal.”This strikes me as important because Iranian officials, were, well before the recent controversy broke out over Iran’s nuclear program, referencing Islamic prohibitions against the use of unconventional weapons. Perhaps this bolsters the credibility of Iran’s fatwa regarding nuclear weapons.

It’s also worth noting that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini “issued a fatwa (religious edict) during the Iran-Iraq war prohibiting the production and use of chemical weapons in retaliation against Saddam Hussein’s forces.”

Whether Iran ever actually developed chemical weapons is not entirely clear to me, although there are certainly reports to that effect. Iran “got the chemical capabilities,” late during the Iran-Iraq war, according to this 2003 statement.