By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil has made it clear in the Nuclear Security Summit that it favors diplomacy over sanctions in addressing Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Being one of the non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council for 2010-2011, Brazil holds an important position of decision-making power regarding international security issues.
Brazil’s stance on the side of strengthening diplomatic relations over punitive actions towards Iran and its nuclear enrichment program is shared by the so-called BRIC countries (Russia, India and China, along with Brazil), as well as Turkey, another non-permanent member of the UN Security council, and a country with strategic importance regarding Middle East relations.
Several nations with indisputable power on the international scene, most notably the United States and its European allies, United Kingdom, France and Germany, as well as the main U.S. ally in the Middle East, Israel, have expressed their concerns that Iran might be planning to develop nuclear weapons, and the country’s claim that its plutonium enrichment program is geared towards only peaceful means cannot be trusted. U.S. President Barack Obama has been working to achieve international unanimity on the course of actions that needs to be taken to ensure that all nuclear materials are secured and the use of nuclear weapons are prevented.
President Obama has identified nuclear terrorism as the most immediate threat to global security, and called for a Nuclear Security Summit that was held in Washington, DC on April 12-13, attended by leaders from 47 nations as well as the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union. However, Obama’s goal of gaining the support, and reaching an agreement on strengthening the trade sanctions on Iran was not achieved due to Brazil’s rejection, along with other prominent developing nations.
Talking at the Nuclear Security Summit, Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim has pointed out that past sanctions have not hindered Iran’s actions, and that imposing further sanctions on the country was also likely to fail as an effort to ensure that it does not become a nuclear power that threatens global security. “Brazil’s position is to pursue talks to the last”, Jobim stated.
He also urged the international community to give Tehran “guarantees that it will not be attacked” by the U.S. or Israel, referring to the exclusion of Iran from Obama’s recent pledge not to use nuclear weapons against countries that do not possess them. Iran, along with North Korea were specifically excluded from the pledge due to Washington’s accusation that they are not cooperating with the international community on non-proliferation standards.
Jobim also urged at the summit that concerns about Iran should not solely be addressed from the perspective of a “Western model”, considering that the Iranian society is “different and very theocratic”.
The Nuclear Security Summit was also attended by the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is scheduled to visit Iran next month. Also discussing the issue at the recent BRIC summit in Brasília, Lula made it clear that Brazil is strongly favoring giving diplomacy a chance on the Iran issue.
BRIC nations agreed that Iran had the right to develop and possess nuclear energy, but that it also had the responsibility to soothe the rising international fears about the nature and purpose of its nuclear program.