Friday, May 28, 2010

DTN News: UN Rift Widens Over Brazil-Turkey Deal With Iran

Defense News: DTN News: UN Rift Widens Over Brazil-Turkey Deal With Iran
Source: DTN News / By Aldo Gamboa (AFP)
(NSI News Source Info) BRASILIA, Brazil - May 28, 2010: A bitter rift between the world's top powers led by the United States and emerging nations Brazil and Turkey widened Thursday as differences over how to tackle Iran's suspect nuclear program erupted into sharp exchanges.
Turkey accused critics of a deal brokered with Iran last week for a nuclear fuel swap of being "envious" of the "diplomatic success" it represented -- in an implicit swipe at the United States.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged "very serious disagreements" with Brazil over its insistence that the deal it helped to draw up be considered before a US push for new UN sanctions against Iran is decided.
The row threatens to split the UN Security Council, on which the United States sits as a permanent, veto-wielding member alongside temporary members Brazil and Turkey.
It also highlighted the growing assertiveness of Brazil, Latin America's biggest economy, and NATO member Turkey in carving out their own diplomatic tracks independently of the United States.
The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its atomic energy program, something Tehran denies.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in a joint media conference in Brasilia with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, slammed detractors of the May 17 deal they worked out with Tehran.
"The countries criticizing this accord are envious. Because Brazil and Turkey brokered and pulled off a diplomatic success that other countries had been negotiating without result for many years," he said.
He stated that Brazil and Turkey had "assumed the responsibility" that went with their seats on the UN Security Council.
Lula urged that the UN nuclear watchdog, which this week received details from Tehran of the Brazil-Turkey proposal, to show "sensitivity in understanding the political moment" represented by the deal and to analyze it accordingly.
"Turkey and Brazil are working for peace. Up to now, Iran has met the obligations of its accord with Turkey and Brazil," he stressed.
Their words showed a stubborn refusal to allow the United States to dismiss their deal in its rush to secure a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council.
US officials say they already have the backing of the four other permanent members -- allies France and Britain, as well as Iran's investment partners China and Russia -- and were confident they would win the nine votes needed on the 15-seat Security Council to impose the sanctions.
Non-permanent members Brazil and Turkey are opposed, along with Lebanon, which has ties to Iran through its Hezbollah militia.
Brazil was being especially fierce in fighting to save the Tehran fuel swap deal, both in official declarations and in what appeared to be a leak of a letter from US President Barack Obama to Lula ahead of negotiations over the accord.
The daily Folha de Sao Paulo reported Thursday that Obama had sent a letter to Lula three weeks ago suggesting negotiation points with Tehran and stating that he "would keep a door open to a compromise with Iran."
The letter reportedly also said Obama warned he would simultaneously push forward with the UN resolution for sanctions against Tehran.
The Brazilian government has not officially confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but Lula has insisted that the Tehran deal largely addressed the demands made by the United States months ago.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran would deposit around half its stock of low-enriched uranium in Turkey in exchange, within a year later, for reactor fuel enriched to a level needed for research and medical use -- but well below the level required for military ends.
The United States and its European allies say the deal is insufficient, partly because the amount of uranium to be handed over is too little, but mainly because Iran insists on enriching part of its remaining stock to 20 percent anyway.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the opening Thursday of a UN "Alliance of Civilizations" conference in Rio aimed at better cross-cultural understanding, addressed the rift.
"This crisis, it seems to me that there is a serious lack of optimism and trust towards Iran in its core," he said.
He said Iran's plans to enrich its uranium "has caused serious concern" and stated: "It would be helpful if Iran agreed to stop trying to enrich uranium at 20 percent."
Without mentioning the US-led push for sanctions, Ban praised Lula and Erdogan's efforts "to resolve this issue with peaceful negotiation."
He acknowledged, though, that "there are different opinions about the approaches and possibilities concerning this issue."

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