|The Brazil-Turkey-Iran agreement was received with skpeticism|
Irma Argüello, NPSGlobal, May 18th 2010
Yesterday, Brazil, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum of ten items by which Tehran’s government would send to Turkey 1200 kg of uranium enriched to 3.5% in exchange of 120 kg of uranium enriched to 20% for its research reactor. In the document, the Iranian government commits to inform the IAEA and negotiate at the UN.
From a political standpoint, the agreement calls into question the effectiveness of the Security Council sanctions to deal and stop nuclear activities deemed as suspicious.
From a practical standpoint, the agreement covers only part of what Iran has produced so far(about 2,300 kg) and does not prevent the problem of possible illegal enrichment. Penalties are expected.
This is a high risk move of a Brazilian leadership that seeks, at the same time, to position the country as a leading global player and to feed his domestic prestige before the next November elections. However, there have been many criticisms since the agreement is seen as a move to circumvent the sanctions already underway.
According to the Nuclear Security Newswire, the terms of the agreement appear to be similar to an October 2009 proposal, which was rejected by Iran, that proposed that France and Russia enrich the same amount of Iranian nuclear material for use in the Tehran research reactor (TRR). The plan had been formulated by the IAEA.
An ISIS report noted that "the removal of 1,200 kg is not as attractive today as it was last October as the inventory of Iran increased and now reaches nearly 2,300 kg leaving Iran with a stock that in a few months may lead to the "breakout capability", i.e. have enough uranium enriched to more than 90% which will enable it build its first nuclear weapon.
The same report indicates that point one of agreement is at odds with the Security Council sanctions already in place that require Iran to halt enrichment activities, since such a point emphasizes Iran's right to develop research, production and nuclear energy use for peaceful purposes without discrimination, within the framework of the NPT. This is suggestive as Brazil and Turkey are currently members of the Security Council.
The statement did not mention the fate of the 1,200 kg of LEU in Turkey or even the 20% enriched uranium that Iran has produced so far and if Iran will continue to produce more uranium to 20%. This is seen by many analysts as reflecting the rush in the negotiations, in order to avoid the sanctions. However, this objective would not be achieved as the permanent members of the Security Council persist with their idea of applying them, as was revealed today.
Other analysts do not oppose to the involvement of countries like Brazil and Turkey, but make note of the risks of planning actions that may be inconsistent with the Security Council action.
According to Ria Novosti, the Russian expert Alexei Arbatov said that the agreement is a diplomatic maneuver to cause cracks in the Security Council and create a pretext for delaying action against Iran. Another Russian expert, Sergei Karaganov called the agreement an "Iranian diplomatic triumph." The German government said the agreement between Iran and the IAEA "cannot be replaced by any agreement between countries," while European Union spokesmen said that the agreement "does not answer all the points of concern."
The Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said that "new agreements with Iran will require further consultations" pointing out the need to involve all stakeholders.
Meanwhile in Brazil the opinions are varied and those opposed to the intervention of Lula highlighted the risks of taking the Iranians as trusted partners or have a purely functional role to the interests of that country.
The truth is that Brazil is recognizes himself as the great South American power with global reach and wants to act accordingly, and that regardless of the success of this venture, the move will bring votes to Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the ruling party, as this exacerbates the national feeling. Presidential elections will take place next November, and this immediacy is overwhelming against possible longer-term connotations and negative impacts that today's actions may cause.
Text of the agreement
Joint statement by Iran, Turkey and Brazil - May 17, 2010
Having met in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, the undersigned have agreed on the following Declaration:
Manucher Mottaki, Minister of External Relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Ahmet Davuto?lu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey
Celso Amorim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil