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Brazil: Bloggers React to Iran-Brazil-Turkey Nuclear Deal

On 17th May Iran announced a new agreement with Brazil and Turkey concerning the issue of uranium enrichment included in the country's Nuclear Program. For several weeks the USA had been unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a similar atom deal while pressing Iran to change its policies on reporting sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agreement says that Iran has to send 1.2 tons of uranium to Turkey that will enrich it at 20% for medicinal purpose and that Brazil, as a mediator, must make sure that the deal is respected. Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Teheran in order to convince President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accept the deal as a last chance to avoid the UN sanctions suggested at the April's Nuclear Security Summit.

Natanz Nuclear Facility in Iran, by Hamed Saber. Under CC

Much of the criticism arising in the Brazilian blogosphere concerns not the Brazilian choice itself – though a few bloggers have criticized the position of President Lula for being an amateur [pt] – but the role of the USA and the UN as well as whether Iran is to be trusted or not. Nevertheless, the main idea behind the arguments is not new.

As Dolphindiluna, from Mobilização BR [BR Mobilization, pt], states:

O acordo assinado pelo Irã e intermediado por Brasil e Turquia não difere muito daquele apresentado pelo grupo dos 5+1 – Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, França, China, Rússia e Alemanha – no final do ano passado e mediado pela AIEA (Agência Internacional de Energia Atômica).

The agreement signed by Iran and brokered by Turkey and Brazil does not differ much from that presented by the 5 +1 group – the U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – at the end of last year and brokered by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Brazilian blogger Maria Frô has a very strong opinion over the matter and describes the deal signed by Iran, Brazil and Turkey as…

[…] a maior vitória diplomática dos últimos tempos

[…] the major victory of the Brazilian diplomacy in recent times

So far, the United States did not waive the right to propose sanctions in the UN's Security Council and, because of that, is the target of many criticism [pt] by Brazilian bloggers who mostly disagree that imposing sanctions would make any difference and consider that the U.S. simply want to take over the UN. As Polivocidade adds [pt]:

Várias ocasiões na história nos remetem ao despeito, e ao mesmo tempo ao grande mando que os EUA exercem sobre a ONU. Basta lembrar aqui a total indiferença da ONU a respeito da invasão dos EUA ao Iraque, e tantas outras medidas econômicas que constrangem e prejudicam a soberania de outros países no mundo, realizadas pelos EUA, onde a ONU não faz valer sua autoridade institucional.

Various times in history remind us of the contempt, and at the same time the general command that the U.S. exert over the UN. Just remember here the total indifference of the UN concerning the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and many other economic measures that constrain and undermine the sovereignty of other countries in the world, conducted by the U.S., where the UN does not enforce its institutional authority.

Net-citizens also extend their skepticism to the intentions of Iran and on the health of such agreement. Gustavo Chacra, on his blog De Beirute à Nova York [From Beirut to New York, pt], writes:

Alguns dizem que o objetivo de Teerã é ir empurrando com a barriga a questão nuclear até atingir a capacidade de produzir um armamento, sem necessariamente fabricá-lo. Eu tendo a concordar com esta teoria. O mesmo ocorreu com a Coréia do Norte. Mas, desde ontem, Brasil e Turquia passaram ser fiscais.

Some say the goal of Tehran is keep rolling with the flow the nuclear issue until it achieves the capability to produce weapons, without necessarily making it [enrich the uranium]. I tend to agree with this theory. The same happened with North Korea. But since yesterday, Brazil and Turkey came to be inspectors.
Photo by Acewill. Under CC

Radio Active by Acewill, used under CC

On the Brazilian role, professor José Flavio Sombra Saraiva writes for Mundorama blog and believes that Brazil shouldn't have got itself on the middle of such problem:

O nó não se desata. E o Brasil se meteu no meio dos interesses cruciais dos gigantes, ambiciosos na conservação do controle tecnológico do ciclo nuclear completo. É poder a ser conservado. Valeu o esforço da diplomacia nacional em seus propósitos de diálogo. Mas o mundo é bem mais complexo que o voluntarismo da política externa do Brasil no capítulo nuclear, embora em outras áreas tenha obtido avanços relevantes nos últimos anos.

The knot does not unravel. And Brazil got in the way of the crucial concerns of the giants, ambitious on the conservation of technological control of the full nuclear cycle. It is a power to be retained. It was worth the effort of national diplomacy in fostering dialogue. But the world is much more complex than the proactive foreign policy of Brazil in the nuclear section, while in other relevant areas have made headway in recent years.

Andre Kenji from Dissidência blog [Dissidence, pt] also criticizes the Brazilian role on the conflict, which he considers may simply be an opportunity for a diplomatic ‘playhouse’:

Certo, há o Brasil. O país tem um poderio militar fraco, não muito melhor ao do Irã e nunca conseguiu ter uma força diplomática forte nas pendengas envolvendo seus próprios vizinhos. Mas sempre se enxergou como uma espécie de Estados Unidos tropical, e certamente precisava exercitar isso de alguma forma. Certo? Então, nada melhor que um teatrinho diplomático.

Sure, there is Brazil. The country has a weak military power, not much better than Iran and never got to have a strong diplomatic force on the issues involving their own neighbors. But it has always seen itself as a kind of tropical USA, and certainly needed to exercise this in some way. Right? So, nothing better than a diplomatic playhouse.

Chico Barreira, in a post titled ‘The Ecological Dead-Lock‘, from blog Novas Ideias [New Ideas, pt], relates to the own sovereignty of the country claiming that Brazil is defending its own nuclear industry:

Logo, ao defender o direto do Irã e de qualquer outro pais  de acesso à tecnologias nucleares, o Brasil defende essencialmente os seus interesses estratégicos e comerciais. Isto, pela boa razão de que possuímos mais de cinqüenta por cento das reservas  naturais de urânio do Planeta e estamos em vias de ingressa no seleto grupo de apenas seis países que controlam o  processo integral de enriquecimento do  desse minério.

Therefore, to defend the right of Iran and any other country the access to nuclear technologies, Brazil maintains essentially its strategic and commercial interests. This is due to a good reason: we have more than fifty percent of the natural resources of uranium that exist in the planet and we are about to join the elite group of only six countries that control the whole process of enrichment of the mineral.

Finally, Leandro Fortes, from the blog Brasília, eu vi [Brasilia, I saw, pt], analyses the role of President Lula and the Brazilian diplomacy and praises the independence and professionalism of the Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. Brazilian mass media is talking about the possibility of a Nobel Prize for President Lula as his presidency comes to an end. Leandro Fortes  sarcastically tells them what he believes to be behind all foreign affairs and Nobel itself, stressing the effort made by the government to reach an agreement:

O sucesso da diplomacia brasileira nesse episódio criou um paradigma de atuação profissional do Itamaraty até então considerado impossível. De forma pacífica e disciplinada, a operação que resultou no acordo foi conduzida com extrema leveza, a caminhar sobre os ovos de aves agourentas distintas que se odeiam desde as primeiras luzes. Incorporou à biografia de Lula essa aura dos que lutam pela paz, requisito fundamental para a seleção dos premiados do Prêmio Nobel da Paz. Mas, antes que isso aconteça, a mídia brasileira vai finalmente descobrir que o milionário Alfred Nobel inventou a dinamite.

O resultado concretamente político dessa ação no Oriente Médio, apesar da bem sucedida pressão da extrema-direita americana sobre Barack Obama a favor de sanções contra o Irã, foi a desconstrução do discurso conservador da diplomacia brasileira, todo ele montado sobre as teses de alinhamento automático aos Estados Unidos, reação acrítica de atos de barbárie cometidos por Estados ocidentais e a submissão pura e simples às regras financeiras ditadas pelas nações ricas. Nesse aspecto, a história do chanceler Celso Amorim será extremamente mais relevante do que a de seus antecessores, torcedores vibrantes pelo fracasso do ministro com ampla visibilidade nas matérias e programas de entrevista da velha mídia nacional.

The success of Brazilian diplomacy in this case has created a new paradigm of professional performance of the Foreign Ministry which would be considered impossible until now. Peacefully and orderly, the operation that resulted in the agreement was carried out with extreme lightness, walking on the eggs of noble ill birds who hate each other since the beginning of times. It added to Lula's biography a kind of aura of those who struggle for peace: a basic requirement for nominees of the Nobel Peace. But before that happens, the Brazilian media will finally discover that the millionaire Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.

The factual political result of this particular action in the Middle East, despite the successful pressure from the American extreme-right over Barack Obama in favor of sanctions against Iran, was the deconstruction of the conservative discourse of Brazilian diplomacy, all of it built on the theory of automatic alignment with the United States, as well as the uncritical reaction to acts of barbarism committed by Western states and the pure and simple submission to the financial rules dictated by the rich nations. In this regard, the history of Foreign Minister Celso Amorim will be extremely more relevant than its predecessors, vibrant supporters for the failure of the minister with broad visibility in the field and talk shows from the old national media.

Given the current deal reached by Brazil and Turkey with Iran, the latter steps ahead on a potential peaceful way to the imminent conflict and to seek a different path on the confrontation with the western countries. Whether or not Iran is to be trusted is a different subject. As Brazil and other countries have the right to possess atomic weapons or even nuclear energy, it is now time to reflect on the requirements for any other country that lacks natural resources to diversify their energy sources, and which sanctions, if any, should be imposed and by whom.

This article was proofread by Marta Cooper.

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