Tuesday, May 18, 2010


"When the leaders of Brazil and Turkey joined hands with Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, Iran’s president, to celebrate Monday’s agreement, the three men dealt a severe blow to US foreign policy.

For months, Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, had warned Turkey and Brazil that their attempt to broker a deal over Iran’s nuclear programme would go nowhere. Instead, the US wanted Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, to use their temporary membership of the Security Council to support another round of United Nations sanctions on Iran....

It enormously complicates Washington’s drive to impose more UN sanctions on Iran, perhaps the highest priority of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

“If the deal sticks, we have a period of diplomacy, with sanctions on a very slow track [and the] chance of an Israeli strike significantly reduced over the medium term,” said Cliff Kupchan, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a US-based consultancy. “The US has very little choice but to talk.”

All the same, Washington is deeply sceptical about Monday’s deal, which ostensibly amounts to Iran’s acceptance of a confidence-building measure first proposed in Geneva in October. Iran’s nuclear programme has made significant progress since then. At that time, exporting 1,200kg of low-enriched uranium would have accounted for more than 70 per cent of Iran’s total stockpile. Today, Iran has managed to accumulate at least 2,065kg of low-enriched uranium, according to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, and sending 1,200kg to Turkey would account for only 58 per cent of the total. Iran is producing low-enriched uranium at a rate of about 125kg per month, meaning that it could replace the amount exported in less than 10 months. Moreover, the agreement does not address the central issue: Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium in breach of five UN resolutions, a process that could be used to make the essential material for a nuclear weapon.

“As far as we are concerned, this is one more trick from the Iranians,” said a European diplomat. “Iran wants to appear as though it is open to negotiations and ready for compromise.” He asked: “What about the question of Iran suspending its programme? Where does this agreement leave us on that?”

Already, the announcement seems to have ended Washington’s hopes of winning Brazilian and Turkish support for more sanctions. The question is whether the whole drive for another UN resolution has been sabotaged. That largely rests with China, which has the power of veto in the Security Council".

"Iran [Persia] deal sets back US goal of sanctions," 17 March 2010 in www.ft.com

"To that end, we have been working closely with our P-5+1 partners for several weeks on the draft of a new sanctions resolution on Iran. And today, I am pleased to announce to this committee we have reached agreement on a strong draft with the cooperation of both Russia and China. We plan to circulate that draft resolution to the entire Security Council today.

And let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide. There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran, and although 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, the P-5+1, which consists, of course, of Russia, China, the United States, the UK, France, and Germany, along with the High Representative of the EU, 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".

American Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Opening Remarks Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations," 18 May 2010, in www.state.gov

"Russia says the talks on the controversial Iranian nuclear program proceed in the right direction, but the UN Security Council must make the decision as soon as possible, the Russian deputy prime minister said.

The Iranian, Brazilian, and Turkish foreign ministers signed an agreement on Monday on the exchange of low-enriched uranium to fuel Tehran's scientific research reactor.

"We believe that Iran must be absolutely transparent and allow IAEA experts to [inspect] its nuclear facilities. Moreover, we still have questions regarding Iran. The answers must be clear..., and confirmed by the IAEA, if speak about the peaceful nuclear program," Sergei Ivanov said.

Iran, which has recently been under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, agreed to swap in Turkey most of its 3.5%-enriched uranium for 20%-enriched fuel for use in its Tehran scientific research reactor.

The Iran Six (France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China) began on April 19 discussing the text of a draft resolution to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The German government said on Monday the deal between Iran and the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), on the nuclear program "cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries."

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told AFP that the nuclear fuel swap deal "does not answer all of the concerns" raised by Tehran's nuclear program, although it is a "move in the right direction."

"Russia says talks on Iran [Persia] productive; urges measures," 18 May 2010 in www.en.rian.ru/world

So, much for the Persian diplomatic coup of Monday. Today in a surprise development, many, many months of patient (indeed one may say 'over-patient') diplomacy, the Americans announced that they have signed-up both Moskva and Peking to a new round of sanctions to be imposed upon Persia. Thus effectively negating the attempted Brazilian-Turkish-Persian diplomatic end-run of the Americans. Which in point of fact is not very surprising inasmuch as other than the Persians, none of the powers concerned are truly and deeply interested in the subject. In the case of Brazil, its involvement is merely grandstanding, pur et simple. By a retiring Brazilian President, who up to now, has shown scant interest in the Persian, nay indeed the Near Eastern problem. Similarly, in the case of the Turkish Premier, it is merely a case of regional grandstanding and trying to play a bigger role in the region than Turkey's own power position allows for. Of a piece in fact with its recent 'good neighbor' diplomacy, id est., the diplomatic equivalent of windbaggery. For the Persians of course, the agreement appeared to be a heaven-sent opportunity to regain the diplomatic initiative. With their own internal political problems costing them a great deal in terms of world public and diplomatic opinion. Well then one may indeed inquire: 'will the new set of sanctions lead to a Persian diplomatic capitulation on the nuclear issue'? Hardly. Indeed, au fond I am quite pessimistic about the efficacy of any sanctions that are likely to pass the UN Security Council. However, in absence of the same and an honest endeavor to allow the same to 'work', any more coercive measures (which are indeed vraiment the only solution to the Persian nuclear problem) will never achieve legitimacy outside the USA, UK and Israel. Therefore, however annoying it may be, to the likes of people like former American UN Ambassador Mr. Bolton, more diplomacy not less diplomacy, however fruitless is needed before a policy of pure coercion can be put into effect (for Ambassador Bolton's view of things see: "The Case for Striking Iran [Persia] grows:only decisive action can stop Tehran from acquiring nukes," 11 February 2010 in www.wsj.com). At the very least, Secretary of State Clinton's announcement today brings us a step closer to that day. To my mind the sooner the better.


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