The most sinful weapons
Stepping away from the threat of war with Iran
Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameinei, declares nuclear weapons are sinful. He is right about that. He has been saying such things for years. In 2005 he called nukes un-Islamic.
Unchristian too, we might add. So here’s an “amen” to the Muslim cleric, who said in February: “We consider developing nuclear weapons unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin. We also believe keeping such weapons is futile and dangerous.”
Khameinei’s words contribute to hope for averting war over Iran’s nuclear program. (Khameinei holds authority over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.) After months of posturing on both sides, talks in Istanbul in April between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers turned toward the goal of a negotiated solution. Diplomats said the meetings’ positive tone set the stage for more progress when talks resume in Baghdad on May 23.
The optimism that emerged from Istanbul stood in marked contrast to the alarm at the prospect of armed conflict that prevailed as recently as March. Israel had threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities — an act that could escalate into a wider war in the Middle East and draw the U.S. into the conflict. U.S. officials declared all military options were on the table. President Obama said he “had Israel’s back.” Republican presidential candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, trumpeted their readiness to fight.
And yet, U.S. intelligence has not concluded that Iran has decided to develop nuclear weapons. Thus a nation that spent the lives of nearly 5,000 troops in a war over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq contemplates another pre-emptive war over another unverified threat.
False claims about weapons in Iraq cast a cautionary shadow over the Iran crisis. One who has called attention to this is Bob Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska who is running to regain his seat. War with Iran “would be a disaster,” he said. “It’ll make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a cakewalk.” He chose the word deliberately: “Cakewalk” was the term a Bush administration adviser used to predict an easy victory in Iraq.
Yes, it would be a sin for Iran to build a nuclear bomb. The U.S. and other nations rightly call a nuclear-armed Iran unacceptable. But this principle should apply to all. The U.S. arsenal, with two-thirds of the world’s nukes, is dangerous too. American weapons of mass destruction are no less evil than anyone else’s.
An action alert from the Mennonite Central Committee Washington Office puts it this way: “As historic peace churches, Anabaptists believe that no country should have nuclear weapons. We support diplomatic efforts to dissuade Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But we also continue to call on the U.S. government to reduce its stockpile of 5,000 nuclear weapons.”
If the U.S. did that, it could join Ayatollah Khameinei in reaching for the moral high ground on nuclear weapons.
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