Fact: Iran has never threatened to use nuclear weapons.
Iranian officials deny they are seeking nuclear weapons. Iran’s top decision-maker, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons and has publicly expressed categorical opposition to the existence of nuclear weapons, stating, “Islam is opposed to nuclear weapons” and “the Islamic religion forbids the use of nuclear weapons.
Iranian officials have never threatened to use weapons that they deny they seek and that the Supreme Leader has condemned.
Some commentators have claimed that the anti-Israel rhetoric espoused by current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad constitutes a threat to use nuclear weapons. However, experts disagree.
Politifact determined that a claim by Michelle Bachmann that Iran threatened to use nuclear weapons based on Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric was false:
- “Ahmadinejad has said some tough things about the United States and Israel, but we find no evidence that he has said he would use a nuclear weapon against either country. In fact, he has maintained Iran has no interest in building one.“ (Politifact)
Israel’s Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Dan Meridor, agrees:
- “This idea that Iran wants to wipe Israel out, now that’s a common trope that is put about by a lot of people in Israel, a lot of people in the United States, but as we know Ahmadinejad didn’t say that he plans to exterminate Israel, nor did he say that Iran’s policy is to exterminate Israel.” (New York Times, “Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map’”; April 17, 2012)
Iranian officials who have commented directly on Ahmadinejad’s comments have stated that they are not intended in a military sense:
- CNN: Larijani sought to downplay the significance of comments attributed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few years ago suggesting that Israel should be wiped off the map. He said the comments were ‘definitely not” meant in a military sense and that such an approach was not “a policy of Iran.’” (CNN; March 15, 2012)