In what appeared to be a possible attempt to address Western concerns about the nature of Iran's nuclear program, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei once again prohibited the development and use of nuclear weapons, declaring it "haram."
Khamenei who was speaking to a group of elite students, said: "Although we could have moved in this direction, yet we declared that using nuclear weapons is strictly haram [prohibited] and illegitimate," adding, "There is no reason why we should spend money to produce or be in possession of a weapon which is strictly prohibited."
During the UN General Assembly meetings in New York in late September, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to broker a deal between Iran and the United states. According to the Guardian newspaper on October 2, the deal would enshrine that “Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon” and will “fully comply with its nuclear obligations and commitments and will accept a negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear activities”. It would also “refrain from any aggression and will seek genuine peace and respect in the region through negotiations”.
In return, the United States would lift the sanctions on Iran's oil exports. Washington sanctioned Iran's oil export and international banking after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, U.S., UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.
President Hassan Rouhani confirmed the four conditions in a speech to his cabinet last week, stressing that making nuclear weapons is religiously prohibited, possibly referring to Khamenei's decree.
The New Yorker magazine also wrote on September 30, quoting diplomatic sources that apparently a deal was made in New York, which hinged on Rouhani, Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron having a phone call on September 24 to seal a four-point deal. But that deal was never made as a scheduled teleconference between Macron, Rouhani and Trump never materialized.
Khamenei's statement appeared to be a response to the first of the four conditions engineered by Macron: “Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Khamenei had also said previously, immediately before the 2015 deal with the West that he was not interested in having nuclear weapons as they were "haram." However, few international observers believed him, as an underlying principle of the Islamic Republic is that "Protecting the regime is the most important thing for the Islamic Republic," and justifies anything including what has been strictly prohibited "including drinking wine."
On the other hand, Khamenei has said many times that any negotiations with the West cannot include discussions on Iran's interventions in the region or the country's missile program.
However, in order to show his good will, Khamenei reiterated on Wednesday that "Nuclear science is very significant and useful, but it led to the production of the nuclear bomb and turned into a big threat for the world and humanity when it was mixed with wrong culture of seeking power" over the world.
He also added that making and using nuclear weapons is against Islam. He added: "We do not want our universities to reproduce what the universities in the West have produced with their wrong culture."
Expressing appreciation for Iranian elite students' achievements in various scientific fields, Khamenei told the students: "We are living in different conditions. We should think Iranian and live Iranian. Following the Iranian-Islamic model can help us attain this goal."
He explained: "The path we are taking is neither one of socialism, nor of liberal democracy. We have suggested a third path to save nations from the decadent Western culture," but did not elaborate further.