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Home News Global Security The Brazil-Turkey-Iran agreement was received with skpeticism
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:

  1. We reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in accordance with the related articles of the NPT, recall the right of all State Parties, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy (as well as nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment activities) for peaceful purposes without discrimination.
  2. We express our strong conviction that we have the opportunity now to begin a forward looking process that will create a positive, constructive, non-confrontational atmosphere leading to an era of interaction and cooperation.
  3. We believe that the nuclear fuel exchange is instrumental in initiating cooperation in different areas, especially with regard to peaceful nuclear cooperation including nuclear power plant and research reactors construction.
  4. Based on this point the nuclear fuel exchange is a starting point to begin cooperation and a positive constructive move forward among nations. Such a move should lead to positive interaction and cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear activities replacing and avoiding all kinds of confrontation through refraining from measures, actions and rhetorical statements that would jeopardize Iran’s rights and obligations under the NPT.
  5. Based on the above, in order to facilitate the nuclear cooperation mentioned above, the Islamic Republic of Iran agrees to deposit 1200 kg LEU in Turkey. While in Turkey this LEU will continue to be the property of Iran. Iran and the IAEA may station observers to monitor the safekeeping of the LEU in Turkey.
  6. Iran will notify the IAEA in writing through official channels of its agreement with the above within seven days following the date of this declaration. Upon the positive response of the Vienna Group (US, Russia, France and the IAEA) further details of the exchange will be elaborated through a written agreement and proper arrangement between Iran and the Vienna Group that specifically committed themselves to deliver 120 kg of fuel needed for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).
  7. When the Vienna Group declares its commitment to this provision, both sides will implement the agreement in paragraph 6. Iran is prepared to deposit the LEU in Turkey on the basis of the agreement in no later than one month. On the basis of the same agreement the Vienna Group should deliver 120 kg fuel required for the TRR to Iran in no later than one year.
  8. In case the provisions of this Declaration are not respected Turkey, upon the request of Iran, will return swiftly and unconditionally Iran’s LEU to Iran.
  9. Turkey and Brazil welcomed the continued readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pursue its talks with the 5+1 countries in any place, including Turkey and Brazil, on the common concerns based on collective commitments according to the common points of their proposals.
  10. Turkey and Brazil appreciated Iran's commitment to the NPT and its constructive role in pursuing the realization of nuclear rights of its Member States. The Islamic Republic of Iran likewise appreciated the constructive efforts of the friendly countries Turkey and Brazil in creating the conducive environment for the realization of Iran's rights.

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