Why Does Brazil Ruin Everything

Did diplomacy really kill the fun in sanctioning Iran?

They have football.  Isn’t that enough?  Now they want politics too?

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is currently in Tehran where it is being reported that he – along with representatives from Turkey – have struck a deal to send 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium to Turkey for transformation into fuel.  Last week, the world seemed very skeptical of the ability of Lulu to make any progress with Iran.  US Sec. of State Clinton even remarked that failure to make a deal would severely damage ties between Brazil and its traditional allies in the US and Europe.  Clinton also said that the efforts by Turkey and Brazil were futile as Iran was simply trying to stall efforts by the UN Security Council to pass sanctions.

[tweetmeme] Despite the eagerness of the US to dismiss the diplomatic efforts and to push sanctions, Turkey and Brazil have managed to agree to an ideal agreement.  The uranium swap will take place in Turkey (what the US wanted) and Iran will send enough low-enriched uranium to deny the possibility of a nuclear weapon (1200 kg – what the US wanted).  To be precise, this deal is nearly identical to the one that Iran agreed to in principle in the fall. To be sure, there is always the possibility that Iran reneges on its new commitments, but the involvement of Supreme Leader Khamenei lends the deal more legitimacy.

Last week, commentators noted that a successful diplomatic trip by Lulu would be his crowning achievement and proof that Brazil had indeed become a powerful world actor – even noting the possibility of a Nobel prize.  So, now that a deal has been made, let the praise begin to fall at the feet of the Brazilian.  Or, instead of celebrating the success of diplomacy, we can lament the fact that that damn Lulu ruined our push for sanctions.  Seriously, we were so close!


Iranian state media said on Monday that Brazil and Turkey had brokered a compromise with Tehran in the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, a development that could undermine efforts in the United Nations to impose new sanctions on the Iranians.

Meanwhile, Paul Woodward hypothesizes about the type of reaction there would have been if Obama had brokered the deal:

If President Obama had accomplished what Brazil and Turkey are about to pull off — a deal through which Iran will exchange its stockpile of enriched uranium in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor — then the US media would be hailing this as a diplomatic breakthrough. Instead, this is being described as a possible obstacle to sanctions.

The diplomatic success almost makes you wonder about Obama’s decision to spurn his position on engagement that he held as a candidate.  The nerve of Russia, talking to Hamas like that.

Photo from the LATimes

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