US: Deal reached on Iran sanctions

Tha Brazilian and Turkish diplomacy did an extraordinary job reaching a negotiated deal with Iran. This deal will be internationally recognized and Brazil and Turkey will probably be more respected in international issues.

But, unfortunately, in international relations there isn’t much room for idealism. The following day, the U.S. reached a deal with Russia and China for the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. It really doesn’t matter how much Iran shows it’s commitment to only use nuclear power for civil energy purposes. The U.S. wants it to have no nuclear capacity at all. Iran is an geopolitically strategic country in the Middle East, and the U.S. will try to control it as much as it can.


Iran, Turkey and Brazil declaration
The leaders of Iran, Turkey and Brazil inked a fuel swap deal in Tehran on Monday [AFP]

The following is a declaration agreed by Iran, Turkey and Brazilin Tehran on Monday setting out terms for a nuclear fuel swap.

(17 May 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 forwardlooking 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, then both parties would commit themselves to the implementation of the agreement mentioned in item 6. Islamic Republic of Iran expressed its readiness to deposit its LEU (1200 kg) within one month. On the basis of the same agreement the Vienna Group should deliver 120 kg fuel required for TRR 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.


By Marwan Bishara in on May 17th, 2010

Photo by EPA

Will the nuclear swap deal agreed by Iran, Brazil and Turkey buy time for a comprehensive process to deal with concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme?

In the days ahead, western diplomats will weigh every word in the final Iranian, Brazilian, Turkish communiqué looking for ways to evaluate whether its is sufficient to end or at least freeze efforts to obtain another UN Security Council resolution that hardens sanctions against the Islamic republic.

But I won’t do any such analysis of the text, rather I will leave it to those searching for faults that might allow Iran off (or on) the hook.

No such short statement will ever be sufficient to ensure serious long term verification of Iran’s compliance..

Neither is it meant as a substitute for the relevant parties getting their hands dirty on the details of any long term arrangements. Nor is it sufficient to defuse the political tensions between the US and Iran. Let alone satisfy Israel.

But it is an excellent declaration of principle.

And while the US and Israel have been making the most noise regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, its no longer up to them and their European allies to decide whether Tehran will satisfy its international commitments.

There are many new kids on the block, BRIC, IBSA and the likes of Turkey and Brazil.

Scepticism vs enthusiasm

The nuclear communique might have nuked US efforts to pass new sanctions against Iran at the UN Security Council.

Which raises much scepticism among Western diplomats who reckon Tehran is buying time, and in the process pulling the rug from under US diplomatic efforts to corner Iran at the UN.

Or, according to the enthusiasts, the agreement could be a window of opportunity to engage Iran and begin a comprehensive process that deals with outstanding issues, including a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and foreign invasions and occupations.

What is clear, is that the mediators have tried to model their communique on the recent Geneva agreement with Iran that was acceptable to the US and its European allies. This time, it will be harder for Iran to backtrack and harder for the US to bully Tehran.

Iran doesn’t have many enthusiastic friends that support its nuclear programme. And if it decides to turn its back to a deal with Turkey and Brazil, there will be little chance it could confront  a harsh set of new security council sanctions.

Middle states middleman

Speaking to foreign ministers Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey and Celso Amorim of Brazil after their joint press conference in Brasilia last month, it was clear to me that they were particularly confident about the need for mediation and the categorical rejection of any escalation to the use of force.

As middle-size powers with no particular narrow agenda and rather good relations with the US and Iran, they make up the perfect duo for the sort of mediation needed between Iran and the US.

Their timing couldn’t have been better as both Iran and the US need a deal that allows them to climb down the tree.

During the Latin American-EU summit this week, Lula will make his diplomatic breakthrough central to the new multilateralism long desired by the EU. Spain which holds the rotating presidency of the bloc should be less sceptical than France.

Also the other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, whose leaders met in Brazil last month, are expected to support President Lula and Premier Erdogan.

No less important in this regard, is the enthusiastic support of IBSA (Brazil, India and South Africa) the three biggest and most powerful democracies in the south, who during last month’s summit rejected any escalation to sanctions or worse. Instead they advocated a serious diplomatic effort to resolve the standoff with Iran.

However, unless the new initative includes mechanism to defuse tensions beyond the nuclear enrichment issue, its hard to see how it could work in the medium-term if at all.

Sobering up in Washington

I am sure the Obama administration understands that if India, South Africa and Brazil reject, and China and Russia are cool to, new sanctions, it means they simply won’t work, let alone bite.

The administration’s first reaction was sober concern that sees the agreement as a step in the right direction, but still puts the onus on Iran to prove that its nuclear programme is strictly peaceful.

The same goes for its European allies who are playing hard ball after being left out.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to see how the US and its European allies could pass any new resolution in light of this week’s developments.

Brazil and Turkey are working in a new international climate where the West can no longer dictate sanctions. And they know it.

With the US heavy military deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Europe consumed by its economic crisis, Brazilian and Turkish diplomacy should only be welcomed and encouraged.


US: Deal reached on Iran sanctions
UN security council to take up nuclear sanctions resolution despite fuel swap deal [AP]

Members of the UN security council have agreed on a package of strong new sanctions to impose on Iran over its disputed nuclear programme, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, announced.

Clinton told a US Senate committee that the permanent members of the security council along with Germany would send a new draft resolution to the entire council on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington DC, said the Senate hearing was supposed to be about a nuclear deal between the US and Russia.

“But then all of a sudden [Clinton] announces that the security council has worked out this round of sanctions, and that in her words it would send an unmistakable message to the developments in Iran.”

Clinton said the deal had been reached in cooperation with China and Russia, who have previously resisted calls for a new round of sanctions.

“We don’t know what’s in these sanctions but we do know that they’re going to circulate around the UN,” our correspondent said.

“The fact that [Clinton] pointed out that China and Russia were on board is a big deal for the US, because that was the biggest concern for the Obama administration.”

‘Deflecting pressure’

In her comments on Tuesday, Clinton said Iran was trying to deflect pressure with the fuel swap deal it agreed to on Monday.

Iran and non-permanent security council members Brazil and Turkey said they had agreed on a confidence-building plan for Iran to swap nuclear materials that many believed would blunt the US-led drive for a fourth round of UN penalties on Iran.

The agreement calls for Iran to ship 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, in return for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor.

Clinton’s announcement on Tuesday came despite an appeal from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, for the international community to support the fuel swap deal.

“I urge the international community to support the final declaration for the sake of world peace,” Erdogan told a press conference in Spain.

“There is a unique chance before us and I believe we should take this chance.”

But Clinton said it was not an “accident that Iran agreed” to the fuel swap as the US was preparing to move forward with sanctions.

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran.

“While we acknowledge the sincere efforts of both Turkey and Brazil to find a solution regarding Iran’s standoff with the international community over its nuclear program, we are proceeding to rally the international community on behalf of a strong sanctions resolution that will in our view send an unmistakable message about what is expected from Iran.”

The US and its allies say that Iran wants highly enriched uranium to make an atomic weapon, but Tehran says its nuclear programme is simply designed to meet its civilian energy needs.

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