from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 79
August 11, 2005


In a defiant statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency this week, the government of Iran declared that it would resume uranium enrichment activities but denied that it was pursuing nuclear weapons. As evidence of its peaceful intentions, Iran noted that the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamanei had issued a fatwa (an Islamic religious edict) proscribing such weapons.

But although it has been repeatedly referenced by Iranian officials, there does not seem to be any published text of such a fatwa, leaving its political significance and even its precise meaning in doubt.

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons," according to the August 9 statement to the IAEA. See:

But according to Javad Zarif, the Iranian ambassador to the UN, the decree "prohibit[s] the development and use of nuclear weapons" (Los Angeles Times, 11/05/04).

Yet a religious prohibition on *development* of nuclear weapons was not mentioned in this week's statement to the IAEA.

The reported fatwa was said to have been issued by the Ayatollah in September 2004 "at Friday prayers."

"When the Iranian leader issues such a fatwa, then we have given a political, religious and ideological guarantee that we are not pursuing the production of nuclear weapons," said Hasan Rowhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, in a February 8, 2005 interview on Iranian TV.

But an Iranian legislative initiative to enact the prohibition on nuclear weapons into statute last year failed. Thus, instead of demonstrating and bolstering the credibility of the reported fatwa, the Iranian government sent sharply mixed signals.

Iranian legislator Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taqi Rahbar said last November 9 that the bill to ban nuclear weapons was "not expedient," because Iran is in a region of proliferators.

He added, significantly: "There are no Shari'a [religious law] or legal restrictions on having such weapons as a deterrent."

See "Dr. Strangelove in Iran," RFE/RL Iran Report, November 23, 2004:

In short, efforts by Iranian officials to publicly clarify their religious and political views on nuclear weapons have instead generated new confusion about their actual intentions.


See, relatedly, "Iran's Nuclear Program: Recent Developments" from the Congressional Research Service, updated May 18, 2005:

and "Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses," updated June 27, 2005:

UAV ROADMAP 2005-2030

The anticipated development of unmanned aerial vehicles and associated systems over the next twenty-five years is the subject of a new planning document released by the Pentagon this week.

"As the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) enters its fourth year, the contributions of unmanned aircraft (UA) in sorties, hours, and expanded roles continue to increase," the new report states.

"As of September 2004, some twenty types of coalition UA, large and small, have flown over 100,000 total flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their once reconnaissance-only role is now shared with strike, force protection, and signals collection...."

"UA systems (UAS) continue to expand, encompassing a broad range of mission capabilities.... UA, and unmanned systems in general, are changing the conduct of military operations in the GWOT by providing unrelenting pursuit without offering the terrorist a high value target or a potential captive."

The term Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has been superseded in the new report by the phrase Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to encompass ground stations and other supporting infrastructure.

The UAS Roadmap was reported in Inside the Pentagon on August 11.

A copy of "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030," Office of the Secretary of Defense, August 2005, is available here (213 pages in a very large 9 MB PDF file):


"Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues," updated August 2, 2005:

"Department of Defense Food Procurement: Background and Status," July 12, 2005:

"World Oil Demand and its Effect on Oil Prices," updated June 9, 2005:

"Palestinian Factions," updated June 8, 2005:

"Data Mining: An Overview," updated June 7, 2005:

"The U.N. Law of the Sea Convention and the United States: Developments Since October 2003," updated June 3, 2005:

"War on Drugs: Reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy," updated June 1, 2005:

"Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment," updated May 24, 2005:

"Indonesian Elections," updated May 20, 2005:

"Indonesia: Domestic Politics, Strategic Dynamics, and American Interests," updated May 20, 2005:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to

OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at:

Secrecy News has an RSS feed at:

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here: