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May 07, 2010

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"Ali Khamenei's opening address to the conference... proclaimed weapons of mass destruction haram, strictly forbidden in Islam"
Yet Iran has publicly admitted to having produced chemical weapons during the 80s. Is Khamenei planning to condemn Khomeini for that? I don't really find his announcement to be anything but words. On a related note, I couldn't help but notice the fact that Soltanieh's answer to the question about Pakistan wasn't mentioned.

I don't really find his announcement to be anything but words.

So, I'm guessing that to you, these are mere words as well?
“The Obama presidency has two great missions: ...and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a “hinge of history” and added that “Western civilization” will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

Mojo,

Would that be the period that Iraq was using them, en masse, against Iran?

Ahmadinejad took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State I Am In"

1) Taqiyya gives Shiites the dispensation to "dissimulate" when they fear harm would come from the truth being known. I'd say fear of a military attack would qualify, which means we'd be fools to take the Supreme Leader at his word about this.

2) Saddam had (and used) chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s. Israel has nuclear weapons now. Mojo's point is valid.

Yet Iran has publicly admitted to having produced chemical weapons during the 80s. Is Khamenei planning to condemn Khomeini for that? I don't really find his announcement to be anything but words.

I don't think chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction by any reasonable standard. I mean, are there any such weapons that are significantly more lethal in practice than comparably sized explosive or incendiary devices? Or are we doing that pathetic American thing where we pretend that all weapons are infinitely powerful so that we feel justified about sobbing uncontrollably under a table?

I know that in theory a gram of nerve gas can kill a billion people, but in practice, there's no easy way to disperse a gram of nerve gas to a large number of people. Especially since nerve gas degrades into nontoxic substances fairly quickly in the presence of advanced anti-nerve-gas agents such as sunlight or oxygen. Note that the Tokyo subway attacks, which were executed by a large organization with tremendous technical skill only managed to kill 20 people.

That's why most of the US Army's chemical weapons use VX which is a jelly that clings to the skin...and those weapons are only dangerous to people in the blast radius who get the jelly on their skin. Of course, if you replace the VX in an American chemical weapon with, say, steel, you end up with a weapon that kills using shrapnel...i.e., a conventional explosive device.

Or, if shrapnel is too far from nerve gas jelly, maybe napalm and white phosphor are better analogies. Both are used freely by 'civilized' nations like the US and Israel and not considered WMD (just legal barbarism).
On the other hand mustard, more likely to be used than nerve gas, lasts a good deal longer and is thus, in this narrow aspect, comparable to the after effect of nukes.
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As for the Taqiyya, I see no real difference to the 'Christian' rule that there are no obligations to abide by treaties or to not lie, if the other party is infidel/pagan/heretic/uncivilized. And don't tell me that this 'rule' has become obsolete, esp. on the Kristian(TM) Right.

Taqiyya gives Shiites the dispensation to "dissimulate" when they fear harm would come from the truth being known. I'd say fear of a military attack would qualify, which means we'd be fools to take the Supreme Leader at his word about this.

This is nonsense. A terrible misreading, pursuant to a propaganda effort.

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2008/11/08/taqiya/

Saddam had (and used) chemical weapons against Iran in the 1980s. Israel has nuclear weapons now. Mojo's point is valid.

This doesn't make sense. You left out a few steps in the argument.

Eric, I'll try to clarify.
- The point of the declaration that WMDs are haram was to imply that Iran would not produce them for that reason.
- Iran has produced WMDs in the past and has not indicated that the action was wrong.
- Therefore, the statement indicated not an absolute ban but, at best, a conditional one.
- And, because representatives of Iran won't clarify the statement (e.g. the question about Pakistan), it is unclear under what conditions they believe WMDs are allowable.
- Is production OK but not first use? That's the most restrictive interpretation I can come up with that accords with the historical facts but, even in that case, the statement is completely irrelevant to the question of Iranian intentions regarding a nuclear weapons program.
- If the statement provides no useful information as to the limits of an Iranian WMD program, then it's just words.

Mojo, you still have not explained why chemical weapons should be considered weapons of mass destruction. Without explaining that, your entire argument fails.

You can start by pointing to chemical weapons systems that are currently in production that have demonstrated lethality rates significantly greater than equivalent conventional weapons.

Note that technically speaking, defoliants like Agent Orange are also chemical weapons, no less than Sarin or VX. Does anyone in their right mind think that Agent Orange is weapon of mass destruction?

As we can see from the lively debate above, there is a large segment of American opinion which is not going to take Iranian claims of nonbelligerence seriously. And I think this means that any politician who doesn't apprear to at the very least have grave doubts about their intentions is taking a very large political risk of being declared naive. So the dynamic on our side, is that we expect the worst from Iran, and are practically congenitally incapable of acting otherwise. So how can we head off a nasty confrontation that may at its heart be based upon a misunderstanding?

Does anyone in their right mind think that Agent Orange is weapon of mass destruction?

Triffids, maybe. And pod people.

The point of the declaration that WMDs are haram was to imply that Iran would not produce them for that reason.

No, this is not true. Nuclear weapons are haram. Not "WMDs". That's a more or less meaningless term these days, and not what Khamenei said.

This renders the rest of your argument moot.

Adding (to clarify) that Khamenei seemed to distinguish between nukes and chemical weapons, and either way, focused on their use. Regardless, this statement was made after the period in the 1980's before Khamenei. So his views are not inconsistent with the fact that Iran may have developed, but not used, chemical weapons during the 1980s.

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