Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — a fervent believer that the End of Days is at hand and the Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam (or Imam al-Mahdi, or the “Promised One” is coming to conquer and rule the world imminently — began using Twitter on March 31, 2009. So far, he’s sent out a little over 9,000 Tweets.
I recently began following his Tweets to see what he was saying and how he was using social media. I’m glad I did.
On Saturday, the Iranian leader made news on a sensitive subject, saying that if Iran wanted nuclear weapons that “no power could have prevented us.”
“We believe in the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Khamenei Tweeted in both Farsi and English. “We don’t want to build nuclear weapons.”
But then he immediately sent another Tweet that said, “If we did not believe in the elimination of nuclear weapons and wanted to have one, no power could have prevented us.”
In yet another Tweet on Saturday, he wrote: “US [nuclear] talk proposals are propaganda” which he does not take seriously.
The central question world leaders must decide is whether Khamenei is telling the truth. Does he really believe in the eliminating nuclear weapons? Does he really oppose Iran building nuclear weapons? If so, why has Iran for years been breaking international law and defying numerous UN Security Council resolutions in pursuit of uranium enrichment and nuclear bomb technology?
On Valentine’s Day, Khamenei Tweeted a very blunt and direct statement: “I am not a diplomat. I am a revolutionary. I speak openly and honestly.”
It’s certainly true he is not a diplomat — he continually rejects American and UN offers to negotiate a peaceful resolution to this conflict. He’s certainly a revolutionary — he’s trying to export the Iranian Revolution throughout the Middle East and is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Does he always speak only and honestly? No. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he doesn’t. In this case, he’s succeeding in making headlines around the world with a lie that he doesn’t believe in building nuclear weapons. But in that package of lies, he’s also signaling something he truly does believe, that if Iran wanted The Bomb, it could get one. Khamenei believes this deeply. What’s more, I believe the evidence is unmistakeable: he does want The Bomb and he’s headlong in pursuit of it while trying to obfuscate his goals and intentions in the court of public opinion.