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Iran's nuclear deal with Turkey and Brazil
worth another look



Jonathan Power
TFF Associate since 1991

Comments directly to

June 16, 2010

Memories are short when it comes to realpolitik. President Barack Obama says he was only a boy when the Vietnam War was going on so it is not imprinted on his consciousness. I wonder if he, or indeed any of the current youngish Western leadership, recalls that the US helped the deposed dictator of Iran, Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi, get Iran's nuclear research underway, with no caveats about enriching uranium? Does Obama know that after the Shah's overthrow and the mullahs took over that initially Iran was allowed to buy uranium fuel from the US but that soon after the US stopped the deal, but didn't give Iran its money back?

Does Obama know how it came to be that the US turned a blind eye to Israel's creation of the atomic bomb? Has President Nicolas Sarkozy fully absorbed the implications of the French nuclear aid given to Israel in the early days of bomb-making?

Does Obama know the history of the US relationship with Brazil? Does he know that, only thanks to the US blind eye, Brazil was allowed without any public pillorying to build up a very successful bomb-grade enrichment programme? If Brazil wanted to make a bomb it would take at the most a year. Thankfully, Brazil and Argentina, at one time antagonists, agreed together to shelve their nuclear bomb programmes. That's what gives Brazil credibility with its Iran diplomacy. It knows what it is talking about.

Is Obama aware of Japan's huge stockpile of plutonium built up in part by importing European nuclear waste and reprocessing it? The Europeans have not asked for the plutonium to be returned to them because they say they have nowhere to store it. If Japan ever promoted to the premiership one of its right-wing politicians who hates China maybe Japan would very rapidly build a bomb. Meanwhile, the waste uranium travels the world from Europe to Japan in ships just waiting to be hijacked.

As the famous seventeenth century writer of maxims, the Duke of La Rochefoucauld, wrote, "L'Hypocrisie est un homage que le vice rend a la virtu." (Hypocrisy is the tribute which vice pays to virtue.)

That's for the past. For the present, has the press in the US and Europe given much space to either of two grand old men, Hans Blix and Mohamed El Baradei, who have directed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN body that even President George W. Bush respected and gave added funds to? They have both said there is much of value in the Brazilian-Turkish understanding with Iran and if it were implemented it would be a significant stepping stone towards creating a climate of trust and a fuller agreement.

Neither has there been much discussion of Obama's letter sent to President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil before he flew to Tehran. Now published, it seems to welcome Brazil's initiative. But from the outset Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared more critical. Was there a division here? Is it, as Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US national security advisor, recently suggested, a question of the second tier senior officials, who do much of the policy framing, yet whose ranks are made up partly of people who disagree with the Administration's posture on this or that subject, trying to lead the president by the nose and not giving him all the options, properly weighted?

As Obama said early on, changing US foreign policy is like turning round one of the super large oil tankers at sea. President Richard Nixon got round entrenched interests in the higher echelons of the Defence, State departments and the military by entrusting Henry Kissinger to conduct sensitive diplomacy clandestinely, reporting only to him.

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The truth is that there is a lot in what Brazil and Turkey achieved with Iran. It should not be rubbished and the rest of the world, not least Europe, should stand up for it.

Under the Brazil-Turkey-Iran accord, 1,200 kilos of low enriched uranium would be shipped to Turkey where it would be stored under IAEA supervision. But Iran reserved the right to continue uranium enrichment which, rightly, the US, Russia and Europe were suspicious of.

However, the US had welcomed an earlier Russian and French-brokered deal that was on the same lines. But suddenly, a week after, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected it, usurping his negotiating team. The Americans say that that was then and now its demands have changed since Iran has manufactured a larger quantity of enriched uranium.

The UN sanctions recently passed were the whip cracking. This was not the way to do it. The Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal was inadequate, but it was a useful beginning that in the right atmosphere could have been constructively built on. In Iran's eyes the US rejection was just another step to do Iran down, indulge in further hypocrisy and play fast and loose with the facts as it has long done.


Copyright © 2010 Jonathan Power


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Jonathan Power 2007 Book
Conundrums of Humanity
The Quest for Global Justice

“Conundrums of Humanity” poses eleven questions for our future progress, ranging from “Can we diminish War?” to “How far and fast can we push forward the frontiers of Human Rights?” to “Will China dominate the century?”
The answers to these questions, the author believes, growing out of his long experience as a foreign correspondent and columnist for the International Herald Tribune, are largely positive ones, despite the hurdles yet to be overcome. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, London, 2007.

William Pfaff, September 17, 2007
Jonathan Power's book "Conundrums" - A Review
"His is a powerful and comprehensive statement of ways to make the world better.
Is that worth the Nobel Prize?
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Jonathan Power's 2001 book

Like Water on Stone
The Story of Amnesty International

Follow this link to read about - and order - Jonathan Power's book written for the 40th Anniversary of Amnesty International



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