[Marxism] Erdogan, Lula try to slow US move toward Iran showdowh

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 1 14:44:00 MDT 2010

Brazil, Turkey Try to Rescue Iran Diplomacy
Robert Dreyfuss | May 14, 2010

At the UN, the United States is continuing its quixotic bid for another
round of sanctions against Iran, even while U.S. officials know that no set
of sanctions is likely to achieve its intended goal of persuading or forcing
Iran to halt its nuclear program.

But several countries, including Brazil and Turkey, are trying to head off
sanctions and to broker a deal that might allow productive talks to restart.

This weekend, President Lula of Brazil will visit Iran to meet with
President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders. Lula will be in Tehran
Sunday, at the same time that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan will be
visiting. In the past, the Turks have offered to salvage an October deal
between Iran and the UN's P5 +1 big powers according to which Iran agreed to
send the bulk of its enriched uranium to Russia and France for reprocessing.
Turkey has offered its soil for the deal, seeking to overcome Iranian fears
of handing its uranium to Russia, in an effort to get the October accord
back on track. After initially agreeing to the October deal, Iran reneged,
and the deal fell victim to the poisonous internal politics of post-election

According to Reuters, the United States is mildly skeptical of the
Brazil-Turkish initiative. The service quotes a U.S. official saying, "I
think we would view the Lula visit as perhaps the last big shot at
engagement." At the same time, however, Secretary of State Clinton called
the Turkish foreign minister to throw cold water on the diplomatic effort by
Turkey and Brazil, both of which oppose sanctions against Iran. Says Reuters

    "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke by telephone with Turkish
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and argued that Iran shows no sign of
ceasing uranium enrichment as required by several Security Council

The Associated Press is much blunter [2], saying that Washington is trying
to head off the Turkish-Brazilian initiative:

    "The Obama administration moved Thursday to head off a joint
Turkish-Brazilian effort that could help Iran avoid new United Nations
sanctions over its suspect nuclear program.

    "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a blunt message to
Turkey's foreign minister, telling him that Iran is not serious about
accepting international demands to prove its nuclear program peaceful. She
said Tehran must face fresh penalties unless it does a quick about-face and

    "Clinton will likely give the same message to Brazil's foreign minister
ahead of a weekend visit to Tehran by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva. U.S. officials think Iran will use the trip to try to sabotage
their efforts to draft new U.N. Security Council sanctions. Turkey and
Brazil are members of the council and are opposed to new sanctions."

It's as if the United States is so intent on installing sanctions on Iran -
with President Obama speaking yesterday to President Medvedev of Russia and
the five permanent members of the UN Security Council huddling yesterday in
talks that Washington insists are urgent - that it won't allow an actual
diplomatic process to go forward!

Earlier this week, writing for IPS, Farideh Farhi [3]of the University of
Hawaii, one of the smartest observers of Iran, wrote that despite all the
rhetoric surrounding Ahmadinejad's recent visit to the UN, it's not at all
impossible that talks might get back on track, adding that the European
Union might be getting involved:

    "Despite the posturing, the content of Ahmadeinjad's talk in New York
was focused less on religious sermonising and more on a critique of the
conduct of nuclear weapons-states. This, combined with the dinner given by
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki for members of the U.N. Security
Council, has led to renewed speculation in Iran about the possible revival
of last fall's proposal to transfer much of Iran's low-enriched uranium
(LEU) abroad in exchange for supplies of 20-percent enriched uranium for
Tehran's Research Reactor.

    "The government appears focused on reviving the proposal with the help
of mediation by Brazil and Turkey, whose leaders are expected in Tehran at
the same time in the coming days.

    "Reports that the European Union's foreign affairs chief, Catherine
Ashton, who held talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in
Brussels Monday, is pushing for direct talks with Iran has fuelled
speculation that a new attempt at jumpstarting nuclear talks between Iran
and P5+1 group is in the offing.
    "Davutoglu, who himself called for reviving the swap proposal during a
visit last month to Washington, has in turn proposed to host talks between
Ashton and Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. According to
Davutoglu, Iran has welcomed the idea and is awaiting Ashton's reply."

Curiously, the New America Foundation's Steve Clemons seems agitated
[4]about Lula's visit to Tehran, and he wrote a piece in his uberblog, The
Washington Note, warning Lula not to meddle:

    "President Lula's trip to Iran and his enthusiasm about injecting
himself as a broker between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the UN Security
Council Permanent Members of the US, Russia, China, the UK, and France in
addition to Germany) is fraught with serious dangers for his legacy and for
Brazil's aspirations to be accommodated in the world's most powerful
institutions. .

    "Lula's well-meaning efforts to defuse one of the world's tensest,
building crises may result in convincing Iran that it has a political back
door out of the increasingly tough wall that the US is trying to assemble
around Iran with the support of China, Russia, Europe, Japan, and many of
the other nations that participated in the recent Nuclear Security Summit
and who are key players in the current Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty
review underway now in New York.

    "Giving Iran a back door would seriously aggravate American policymakers
who have enough problems at the moment communicating resolve to Iran's

In fact, the United States ought to be encouraging Brazil and Turkey to move
forward, and it ought to drop the absurdly misguided push for new sanctions
at the UN.  As I recently wrote in The Nation [5]:

    "To regain the high ground, President Obama must once again emphasize
his readiness to talk with Iran on any and all issues. To calm the waters at
home, he should take pains to emphasize that the problem with Iran is not an
immediate crisis-that Iran does not have a bomb; that it is at least several
years from acquiring one, even if that's what it intends to do; and that
even if it does plan to acquire a bomb, Iran has developed neither a warhead
nor a missile that can deliver such a weapon. Obama should explore creative
ways to revive the deal that was signed last October, perhaps via
intermediaries like Turkey; indeed, during the early May UN conference on
nuclear nonproliferation, Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's acceptance of the
deal, and both Turkey and Brazil are offering to mediate a renewal of the
October accord. In addition, Obama should signal that ultimately he is
prepared to accept Iran's right to enrich uranium, under appropriate IAEA
safeguards. (So far, Obama has said that Iran has the right to peaceful use
of nuclear energy, but he has never acknowledged its right to enrichment as
a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.) And he'll have to
rally US allies, along with Russia and China, for a long and frustrating
diplomatic adventure, with more false starts and roadblocks to come."

URL: http://www.thenation.com/blog/brazil-turkey-try-rescue-iran-diplomacy

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64C4RI20100513


[3] http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51393

[4] http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2010/05/lula_must_not_u/

[5] http://www.thenation.com/ar

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