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Home News Global Security Brazilian Proposal to mediate in the Iranian dispute raises controversy
Brazilian Proposal to mediate in the Iranian dispute raises controversy

Irma Arguello, NPSGlobal, 9 May 2010.

FMs of Brazil and IranDays ago the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that Brasilia was ready to help resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program in a peaceful and appropriate manner. Iran suggested that it would accept that role, and this generated sharp comments from the White House and from Paris, among others. It is argued that Iran would be taking advantage of the intervention of President Lula, and of his good will, only to gain more time. The controversy also reached Brazil, where there are sectors who prefer to see the country not involved in such ventures. The point is whether Brazilian desire to play in the big leagues will take it to make a false move. And indeed, given the situation and the actors involved, the risk is high. 

According to Tehran Times, "Brazil is interested in playing a role in settling Iran’s nuclear issue appropriately," Amorim said during a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran last Tuesday 27, during his official visit.

"The issue has been dragged on for seven years and we think it should be resolved in a peaceful way," he added. He also urged Iran and the major powers to finalize the agreement on the supply of nuclear fuel for the research reactor in Tehran.

"We hope this agreement comes through. This agreement is very important, and it would build confidence between Iran and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), but like any other negotiation, there should be flexibility on both sides," said Amorim.

Talks between Iran and the major powers over Tehran's proposal for an exchange of nuclear fuel stalled after Iran insisted that the exchange would be made in its territory, a condition rejected by the great powers.

Amorim said Brazil may even consider conducting the fuel exchange in its territory. "Right now, there is no proposal, but if we received such a proposal, it could be examined," Amorim said when asked if Brazil would make such an offer.

"We are looking for a way to avoid sanctions against Iran because we think that sanctions are not effective," he told IRNA. 

"The only thing sanctions do is hurt people, especially the lower class," said Brazilian Foreign Minister. 

After the announcement that Tehran would accept in principle the proposal of Brazilian mediation for the exchange of enriched uranium, the White House responded through his spokesman Daniel Restrepo, who said that the positive response from Tehran would be a "delaying tactic". Others joined saying that Lula would be being "used" by the Iranians as he would be providing them with valuable time for delaying the fourth round of Security Council sanctions, sponsored by the P5 + Germany.

At a meeting in the European Parliament, Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, noted the irony that represents the fact that after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the disappearance of the threat of mutual destruction of the superpowers, a new arms race comes to emerge in one of the world's most unstable regions.

The fact is that Iran's nuclear program violates fundamental aspects of the commitments made under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, regarding safeguards, which has been reiterated in time and properly investigated and proven by the IAEA ... and hence, the reiterated penalized.

All these voices were joined by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said in an interview to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, referring to Lula, "I know that the Iranians are going to tease him”. The French official said that the idea of depositing uranium in Brazil or Turkey is not bad, just that in his opinion, it is not true that it could be put in practice. However, the Chancellor said that it is not Lula's fault, whom he described as sincere in their intentions, but it's the Iranians who "are not". His opinion is justified by many previous experiences in which Iran sat down to negotiate and there was no progress.

In statements made yesterday, Lula minimized Kouchner's statement and defended once again the dialogue with Ahmadinejad.

As pointed out by O Globo, in Recife, President Lula - whose visit to Tehran is scheduled for next May 15 - defended the need for dialogue in order to achieve agreement capable of dealing with Iran's controversial nuclear program. Appearing surprised by Kouchner's statements, he said he "doesn't believe in politics of messages."

"Brazil is aware of what it is doing, ripe and ready. If you talk with President Barack Obama or any major European leader, you will see that none of them called Ahmadinejad for a conversation", said Lula. "People should not be sending messages. As I do not believe in this policy of messages, outsourced, as a politician I go to the president of Iran and speak my mind. I want peace and nuclear disarmament. I voted for Brazil not to have weapons. So, no one should come to give me lessons on nuclear weapons as we have the know-how."

The Iranian ambassador to Brazil, Mohsen Shaterzadeh, countered, saying it is "an affront to an honest government and the Brazilian people”. The diplomat also recommended the government of Paris to worry about its internal affairs. President Lula is a wise leader and worthy of respect.

According to the Iranian embassy in Brazil, in addition to meeting with Ahmadinejad, Lula will meet with several officials - including the spiritual leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Iranians still ensure that Lula will also participate in the meeting of G-15, formed by Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The Planalto Palace, however, has not confirmed that information.

Many in Brazil and in Argentina, its natural partner in nuclear issues, would prefer that the orientation of Brazilian international relations avoided taking the country into dangerous areas from where it is difficult to return. Many of us think that Brazil should try to increase its weight and international recognition by other means, which do not pose even at a minimum risk the international credentials the region has achieved in the nuclear field.

In this sense, the main issue is whether any intervention of Brazil could be viewed as an explicit support to transgressor regimes or as a way of preventing the international community of protecting itself from the future consequences of such transgressions.

The mentioned above is a great challenge to President Lula and his team, but not the only one: the Brazilian government in its last months in office -there will be elections in November- should demonstrate in practice that it has enough experience and capability , beyond declarations, to show that some kind of positive achievement comes from its intervention. That is, a result that helps reduce the nuclear tension arising from the questionable aspects of the Iran's nuclear program, without leaving their successors the heavy burden of a failed attempt, or an opposite effect from the intended.


Theran Times, 28 apr 2010.

O Globo, Marília Martins, 7 may 2010.

O Globo, Eliane Oliveira y Marília Martins, in collaboration with Everson Teixeira, 8 may 2010.