AFP: Brazil and Turkey lashed out at the United States Friday in a deepening confrontation over Iran, saying it and other nuclear powers lacked credibility in demanding Tehran hobble its atomic program.
By Mauricio Rabuffetti
RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) — Brazil and Turkey lashed out at the United States Friday in a deepening confrontation over Iran, saying it and other nuclear powers lacked credibility in demanding Tehran hobble its atomic program.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted a nuclear fuel swap deal they struck last week with Iran should be weighed instead of a US push for sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Lula was robust in response to comments Thursday from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Brazilian-Turkish deal’s effect of “buying time for Iran… makes the world more dangerous, not less.”
“The existence of weapons of mass destruction is what makes the world more dangerous,” Lula shot back at the opening of a UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in Rio aimed at improving cross-cultural understanding.
Erdogan, also attending, said: “When we hear people talking about stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons — who are they to talk against the idea of having nuclear weapons!”
He added that “those who talk like that should eliminate nuclear weapons from their own countries…. That’s the only way to be convincing.”
The sharp exchanges revealed what Clinton has termed “very serious disagreements with Brazil’s diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran.” She also said she believed Iran was “using” Brazil.
The undiplomatic confrontation will have repercussions in the UN Security Council, where the United States sits as a permanent member alongside temporary members Brazil and Turkey.
The United States is pushing for a UN resolution expanding sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Washington claims, over Tehran’s denials, that the program is a cover to build atomic weapons.
But Brazil and Turkey are steadfast in saying their May 17 accord with Iran should be properly considered first.
Lula said he “went to Iran in search of a negotiated solution.”
He has said the deal he extracted met the demands set out by the US government, requiring Iran to deposit much of its stock of low-enriched uranium in Turkey in exchange, later, for nuclear fuel enriched to a level for medical — but not military — use.
But Washington said the accord does not go far enough, with Iran insisting it will still enrich its remaining uranium stock, and insisting sanctions were necessary to bring Tehran back to negotiations.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Rio Thursday ahead of the UN conference, said “a serious lack of… trust towards Iran” was fueling the standoff.
“It would be helpful if Iran agreed to stop trying to enrich uranium at 20 percent,” he said.
The United States says it has the backing of the four other permanent members — fellow nuclear powers France, Britain, China and Russia — and was confident it would win the nine votes needed on the 15-seat Security Council to impose the sanctions.
Brazil and Turkey are opposed, along with Lebanon, which has ties to Iran through its Hezbollah militia.
Iran has submitted details of how it plans to comply with the Brazil-Turkey accord to the UN atomic watchdog, and said it was awaiting a response.
“Let’s keep our optimistic and positive position to invite everybody to come for a solution… to create confidence-building for everybody,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on a visit to Bulgaria.
“Sanctions (are) a failed policy, which they have tested in the past. If somebody is trying to move in that direction, definitely they will lose,” Mottaki said.