By Jewellord Singh, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have reached a deal with Iran after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to deposit 1,200kg low-enriched uranium in Turkey.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greeted President Lula last weekend, photo by Daniella Zalcman/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

The swap agreement aims to continue the negotiations of Iran with the international community that will hopefully halt further economic sanctions against the country. The deal does not, however, reflect the overall goal of the UN, in particular the Western countries, of completely ending the Iranian nuclear program.

Equally, President Lula’s ability abilities at the negotiating table are not to be understated, and Iran says it is ready to transfer its uranium deposits to Turkey as soon as the ´Vienna  Group´ approves the deal. This includes the U.S., Russia, France and the UN inspecting body, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The deal was met with a mixed response from the international community and the U.S. government has suggested that the agreement is merely a tactic to temporarily suspend the sanctions. Iran was declared part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ by the Bush government and the two have since had a sour relationship over nuclear disarmament, terrorism, and the regional ambitions of Iran.

President Obama’s initial commitment towards ‘constructive engagement’ upon his elections has likewise failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Indeed, the mutual distrust between the U.S. and Iran is the main impediment to any form of positive engagement.

Within the United Nations, Russia and China have been particularly cautious over proposing any new sanctions against Iran, whilst the likes of France and the UK are willing to discuss their viability.

In 2009, the U.S. government made clear demands beyond simply ending the nuclear programme. In relation to terrorism, Iran was to halt its financial and arms support towards Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. It should also actively help stabilise the Middle East, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq. In reply, Iran has always demanded an end to UN and U.S. sanctions and Khamenei also demands an end to American military and political intervention in the Middle East along with acceptance of the international community of its right to develop its uranium research program.

President Lula giving the inaugural speech at the United Nations in New York City in 2007, photo by Marcello Casal JR/Agencia Brasil.

Iran was part of the proxy wars fought by the U.S. and former USSR. The covert military operations supported by the American government prior to the Iranian Revolution has left Iran isolated in the 1990s. America, the UN and other Western countries have continuously failed to persuade Iran in giving up its nuclear weapons programme.

This relatively successful deal is part of the new international role that Brazil under Lula has played in global affairs. Turkey and Brazil currently hold non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council and their deal is likely to change the terms of the debate on international nuclear diplomacy. In short, they have at least partly succeeded in areas where Western powers failed. Brazil is also part of the BRIC group, whose economic importance is now clearly coupled with increasing political significance.

Whether the deal will eventually touch on the central issue of nuclear disarmament remains to be seen. The latest talks represent just a small step towards constructive engagement with one of the most isolated states in the international community.


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