As Israeli-Western hysteria over Iran’s nuclear program continues rising, mainstream media outlets routinely dispense the observation—either on their own or in the form of quotations from U.S. officials—that Tehran’s intentions about the program are murky and it is difficult to discern who is really making decisions about it. As a counterpoint to this, we were struck by a speech that the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei delivered earlier this month to a gathering of Iranian nuclear scientists, see here. We also reproduce the text below:
SUPREME LEADER MEETS WITH NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS
“In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
I am very happy to meet you dear people, the valuable brothers and sisters who are active in an arena of historic significance which is a source of national pride. We have said a lot of good things about you behind your backs and we truly respect you. And today is an opportunity to express our respect face to face. I am thankful to God. Of course, these are blessings from God. All these blessings are from the Creator. “And whatever favor is (bestowed) on you it is from Allah.” [The Holy Quran, 16: 53] It is a divine blessing to have competent, intelligent, scholarly, innovative and motivated manpower. It is a blessing from God. I am grateful to you and I am also thankful to Allah the Exalted for blessing this nation and this system with your existence.
One point is that everybody who is rendering services in a particular area should be well aware of the value of his services. If he appreciates the value of his services, he will continue his work in the best possible way. But if he fails to do so, he will naturally abandon his duty. If a person who is guarding a particular place fails to appreciate the value of his work, he will naturally let down his guard and fall asleep. Therefore, the first point is that we should be aware of the significance of the work we are doing.
Now I would like to say a few things in this regard. There are many different aspects to your work. One aspect of your work is that it instilled a sense of national dignity into this nation and this country, which is very important. Nations face serious trouble only when they lose their dignity, when they serve foreigners for free and forget their own value. This shows the importance of dignity. An oppressed nation – such as the nations in North Africa and other places – rises up only when it feels its dignity has been trampled upon. Then it rises up and no power can stand in the way of such a nation. This has already happened. This shows the importance of dignity. The Revolution instilled a sense of dignity into our nation and our country. They tried to discourage our nation on many occasions. They tried to convince our people that they were incompetent. “Yes, you carried out a revolution, but you cannot run the country by yourselves. You cannot make progress. You cannot keep up with the world.” Every scientific advance is a testimony to the competence of our nation. And your work in nuclear technology instilled a sense of dignity into this nation. This is one dimension of the significance of your work.
The value of such things cannot be measured with materialistic calculations. Of course, all these things are being measured with money in the materialistic world. All human values are finally reduced to money. And this is the affliction of the materialistic world and it will definitely bring materialistic people down. The truth is that there are certain things whose value cannot be measured with money. One may light-heartedly mention money just to make a comparison. I remember I had travelled to one of our provinces. One of the meetings that had been arranged was a meeting with our academics. It was a very enthusiastic meeting. One of the learned professors – whom I knew from before – delivered a speech at the meeting. A few people spoke at the meeting and this learned man was among them. In order to attract the attention of government officials and myself to the problems of the province, he mentioned the capacities that the province enjoyed. For example, he said that certain projects in the province were worth billions and that there was room for such and such investments. I told him that the things he mentioned were materialistic and that he himself was worth several billions more. A learned professor living in a city, in the capital city of a province – can this be compared with the materialistic advantages that the province enjoys? This is the value of ideas and outstanding personalities. You should know that the work you are doing is important.
Of course, as I said, your work has many different aspects. In their propaganda, they have been trying to say that the work on nuclear energy is ideologically motivated – that it has nothing to do with our national interests. This is while your work is directly related to our national interests. The work on nuclear energy is directly related to our national interests. The report that was presented by Dr. Abbasi explained certain aspects of the relationship between nuclear energy and our national interests. The work on nuclear energy is for the sake of the nation, the country and the future.
The arrogant powers of the world – which consider ruling the world as their right – refer to themselves as the global community. This is while they are not the global community. The global community consists of the people and their governments. There are a few countries that refer to themselves as the global community and they issue orders, speak, dismiss and demand on behalf of the global community. These countries have built their global hegemony on their monopoly on science and technology. Some of the uproar that they cause is because they do not want this monopoly to be broken. If the people manage to make progress in nuclear technology, in aerospace, in electronic areas and in different industrial, technological and scientific areas, there will no longer remain a way for them to maintain their bullying and coercive hegemony.
One of the biggest crimes that has been committed against humanity is that over the past two, three centuries – after the Industrial Revolution – knowledge has turned into a means for bullying. The English, who were among the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution, used their knowledge to shackle other nations around the world. Do you know what happened during the reign of the English in the vast and rich Indian subcontinent? And the events were not just limited to the Indian subcontinent. The whole of East Asia was under their boots for more than a century and they dominated the people of East Asia by using their knowledge as a tool. The people felt frustrated. Many people were killed. Many wishes were dashed. Many nations fell behind. Many countries were destroyed. This was how they used their knowledge. This is the biggest treachery to knowledge, just as it is the biggest treachery to humanity. They do not want this monopoly to be broken. Any nation that manages to stand on its own feet independently – and not with their permission and approval and under their yoke – will contribute to undermining this monopoly. Fortunately, this work has already started in Iran.
You should pursue this important field and this essential and great work in an absolutely serious way. Rely on Allah, and Allah the Exalted will help you. There are human and natural capacities. Fortunately, today there are political capacities as well. Sometimes there might be human and natural capacities, but political capacities might be lacking in a country: the hegemony of the enemy does not let such a country breathe and utilize its human and natural capacities. The Revolution took place and created these political capacities. You can – and you must – move forward.
The purpose of the uproar they cause is to stop us. They know that we are not after nuclear weapons. They already know this. I do not have any doubts that in the countries that are opposed to us, the organizations in charge of decision-making are fully aware that we are not after nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are not at all beneficial to us. Moreover, from an ideological and fiqhi perspective, we consider developing nuclear weapons as unlawful. We consider using such weapons as a big sin. We also believe that keeping such weapons is futile and dangerous, and we will never go after them. They know this, but they stress the issue in order to stop our movement.
We want to prove to the world that nuclear weapons do not bring about power. This is because the nuclear powers are suffering from the biggest problems today. They dominated the world through nuclear threats, but today such threats are no longer effective. We want to say that we are not after nuclear weapons, that we do not believe nuclear weapons bring about power and that we can break the kind of power that is based on nuclear weapons. By Allah’s favor, our nation will do this.
Of course, you know that the pressure they exert on us – the pressure of sanctions, threats, assassinations and other such things – is a sign of their weakness. It shows that whatever they do will only strengthen our nation. Their actions will only convince our people that they have chosen the right goal and that their movement is continuing in an appropriate way. As a result, the enemy has been infuriated.
This movement is not just a nuclear movement. Today their pretext is the nuclear issue. They use the nuclear pretext to impose sanctions on us. How long is it since the nuclear issue was first brought up? The sanctions have been there for thirty years. Why were they imposing sanctions on us when the nuclear issue did not exist? It is just a matter of fighting a nation that has decided to become independent, a nation that has decided to resist oppression, a nation that has decided to expose oppression, a nation that has decided to stand up against oppressors and oppression, a nation that is determined to convey this message to the entire world. We have tried to convey this message and by Allah’s favor, we will try even harder in the future. Sanctions, political pressure and other such things will not be effective. When a nation decides to stand firm, when a nation believes in divine assistance and its domestic power and capacities, nothing can stand in its way.
This is my advice: strengthen your resolve. Increase the motivation to continue this path in your organization and among the people who have taken on this important responsibility. Your work is significant. Your work is important and by Allah’s favor, it will determine the future of this country. The issue is not that we will be able to use the nuclear industry to promote our national interests. The issue is that this movement strengthens the resolve of our youth, our scientists and our people, and it makes them steadfast on their path. This is an important point. Keeping our people steadfast and motivated is more important than the direct rewards of the nuclear industry. You are active in this arena and God willing, Allah the Exalted will help you.
We will pray for you. We will definitely help and support you whenever necessary. We believe that by Allah’s favor, you will move forward and remove the obstacles from your path one after the other. By Allah’s favor, your future will be far better than your present.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.”
For those interested in learning more about Ayatollah Khamenei’s views on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, his website presents a longer (and very rich) exposition, which he presented last year, see here.
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett