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Obama Reference to Fatwa Makes Iran Hard-Liners Take Note

President Barack Obama’s reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s prohibition on nuclear weapons gives Iranian skeptics pause.
United States President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2013.   REUTERS/Andrew Burton/Pool (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS)   - RTX13XRI

TEHRAN, Iran — “Fatwa.” That was the magic word in US President Barack Obama’s Sept. 24 speech at the UN General Assembly when referring to Iran’s nuclear program. When Obama turned to the fatwa, the so-called hard-liners in Tehran knew something serious was happening in New York. Obama may as well have said, “This can be our starting point.”  

After the speech, an informed Reformist source reminded Al-Monitor, “The fatwa isn’t new, and Ayatollah Khamenei has highlighted it several times, as did the former president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad].” Indeed, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued the fatwa against the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons on Feb. 22, 2012. 

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