Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

IRAN: Brazil-Turkey Deal Puts New UN Sanctions in Doubt

Despite U.S. and EU skepticism, many independent experts agree that the Iran’s nuclear agreement with Turkey and Brazil will throw a wrench into efforts to gain approval by the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in the coming weeks.

Inter Press Service

The administration of President Barack Obama and the European Union have reacted with scepticism to the nuclear swap accord signed Monday by Iran, Turkey and Brazil, suggesting that Tehran would have to take significant additional steps to satisfy U.S. and Western demands to curb its nuclear programme.

Despite the steep opposition, independent experts in Washington said the 10-point accord, which was signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries, was almost certain to throw a wrench into U.S.- and Western-led efforts to gain approval by the Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in the coming weeks.

Presuming that Tehran sticks to its commitments under the accord, Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the Council, are almost certain to vote against a sanctions resolution. That would give political cover for other members – possibly even China and Russia, neither of which has yet commented on the agreement – to cast a veto.

“There are those in Washington (but also in Paris and London) who were fully committed to passing a strong sanctions resolution in the United Nations Security Council next month, and this is a blow to them and all the intense diplomatic work they have done in the past five or six months,” wrote Gary Sick, a specialist at Columbia University who worked on Iran-related issues under former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

“Clearly, it will be immensely more difficult, if not impossible, to get a sanctions resolution if this deal is on the table,” he added in his widely read blog.

Under the deal, which was brokered by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and is to be transmitted to the IAEA within the next week, Iran will ship 1,200 kg from its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey by the end of June in exchange for 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium that is to be used at the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) to produce medical isotopes.

The quantities included in the pending swap are the same as those proposed last October via the IAEA by the five permanent members of the Security Council – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China – and Germany (the P5+1).

Iran initially appeared to accept the proposal, only to equivocate when the accord came under attack both by opposition and more hard-line forces at home. Subsequent counter-offers by Tehran, such as phased transfers and basing the exchange on Iranian soil, were dismissed by the West.

Whether the new proposal will prove acceptable to the U.S. and its European allies is unclear. While 1,200 kg constituted nearly 70 percent of Tehran’s total estimated LEU stockpile last October, the same amount today makes up just over half its current estimated total of about 2,300 kg.

If the proposed swap took place now, that would leave in Iran’s possession significantly more LEU from which it could, at least theoretically, achieve “break-out capacity” given its current rate of enrichment activities. Thus, Washington may demand that the amount of LEU transferred to Turkey be increased as a condition of its approval.

Another potential problem lies with Tehran’s announcement earlier this year that it had already begun enriching small quantities of LEU to 20 percent for the TRR. If the new accord is implemented, the higher-enriched uranium would be imported from abroad, probably from France or Russia.

The agreement, however, fails to address whether Iran could continue enriching to 20 percent, and Iranian officials were quoted in the international press Monday as saying that such enrichment would indeed continue. According to experts here, the West is almost certain to insist that such enrichment cease as a condition of its acceptance.

Both these issues – and others – may now be subject to additional negotiation between Iran and the P5+1 as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made clear in remarks at the opening session of the Group of 15 (G15) Monday.

“I hope the 5+1 enter talks with honesty, respect and fairness and heed the great work started in Tehran,” he said. The foreign ministers’ communiqué itself “welcomed the decision of the Islamic Republic of Iran to continue as in the past their talks with 5+1 countries in Turkey on the common concerns based on collective commitments according to the common points of their proposals.”

That places the ball squarely in the West’s court, according to Sick. “If the West accepts the deal… and if a new round of negotiations begins – on both the nuclear and other major issues – then this could be a breakthrough. If the West turns it down, or if the two sides do not use it to negotiate some of the major issues that separate them, then nothing much will have been accomplished.”

Several factors, however, suggest that Washington and its allies are more likely to take this latest proposal seriously, if only because of the sponsorship and growing global influence of both Turkey, whose geo-strategic position is widely considered even more important than it was during the Cold War, and Brazil, which has Latin America’s strongest claim to a permanent seat on the Security Council. Both are also thriving democracies and members of the Group of 20 that have attracted considerable amounts of Western foreign investment.

In addition, the fact that Iran’s Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appeared to associate himself with the accord by meeting personally with da Silva will likely “make it more difficult to turn the deal into a domestic political football”, said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council here.

“The higher levels of the (opposition) Green Movement,” he added, “may be okay seeing an issue like this going away… They’re very frustrated with the fact that international attention has been focused entirely on nuclear issue and that the human rights situation has been neglected.”

At the same time, the Obama administration may now find itself in a delicate position with a Congress that has passed sweeping sanctions legislation of its own – mainly against third-country companies doing business with Iran – and has vowed to present the president with a unified bill by the end of May.

“The president has always said he wanted to see if diplomacy would yield results. If diplomacy has now yielded results, and we still go for sanctions, we’re going to have a lot of problems,” noted Parsi.

In its statement, the White House said it “remain(s) committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear programme, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.”

Jim Lobe is the Washington bureau chief of the Inter Press Service and a contributor to IPS Right Web (http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/). He blogs at http://www.lobelog.com/. 

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


RightWeb
share