It's "Gollllllll!" for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions

If I were in Washington this morning, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the the "football" match, shouting "Gollllllll!"

Because with the news this morning that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey, in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a U.S.-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the President of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran towards a future military conflict.

AP reports:


Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed nuclear program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.

The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran - at least temporarily - of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.

If the deal is "nearly identical" to the plan that the U.S. has been pressing, then we should all be celebrating, right?

Not the right-wing German government, apparently.


The key question is whether the agreement fulfills the demands that the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency has made of Tehran, German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said.

Steegmans noted that the point remains whether Iran suspends enrichment of nuclear material at home, raising a possible sticking point since the agreement reaffirmed Tehran's right to enrichment activities for peaceful purposes.

But the demand that Iran suspend the enrichment of nuclear material was never part of the fuel swap deal, and indeed the whole point of the fuel swap deal was to deescalate tensions around Iran's growing stockpile of enriched uranium without recourse to the politically unachievable demand that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium. Everyone involved in the diplomacy knows that "suspension of enrichment" crosses a red line for the Iranians, so saying that the deal is no good because it doesn't require Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium is like saying the deal is no good because it doesn't require Iranian leaders to eat pork on Iranian TV at noon during Ramadan.

The main difference between the deal Iran has just agreed to and the U.N.-drafted version, AP reports, is that if Iran does not receive the fuel rods for its medical research reactor within a year, Turkey will be required to "quickly and unconditionally" return the uranium to Iran. Iran had feared that under the initial U.N. deal, if a swap fell through, its uranium stock could be seized permanently. If the West is operating in good faith, then this difference between the agreements shouldn't matter.



Iran dropped an earlier demand for the fuel exchange to happen in stages and is now willing to ship abroad its nuclear material in a single batch. It also dropped an insistence that the exchange happen inside Iran as well as a request to receive the fuel rods right away.

"There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure," Turkey's Foreign Minister said.

That should be true on the merits, but it's a safe bet that the "anti-peace, pro-Israel" lobby in Washington isn't going to see it that way.

How will the Obama Administration see it?

On Friday, Secretary of State Clinton predicted that Lula's mediation effort would fail.

Now the Obama Administration has to choose. Does it really want a deal? Can it take "yes" for an answer?

Let's not forget that Turkey has a nulcear arsenal of its own (sort-of). Despite the fact that the Cold War ended about 20 years ago, the United States has forward deployed 200 tactical nulcear weapons throughout Europe. In fact, 90 of these gravity bombs (designed to be delivered by aircraft) are located at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey.Other than France and Great Britain (which have their own strategic and tactical nulcear arsenals), more nulcear weapons are present on Turkish territory than any other nation in Europe. By way of comparison, the U.S. has forward deployed only 20 of these weapons in Belgium (at Kleine Brogel Air Base), 20 in Germany (at Bfcchel Air Base), 20 in the Netherlands (at Volkel Air Base) and 50 in Italy (at Aviano Air Base). These weapons were originally intended to deter a Soviet invasion of Europe and were long considered a political plum for those nations that had them; this was especially true of Turkey (which used to brag that the U.S. stationed more nulcear weapons in Turkey than it did in Greece). Of course, these weapons are ostensibly controlled exclusively by the Americans and could never be launched without a direct order of the President of the United States.There is some debate about whether Turkey would object to the removal of these 90 warheads. The current government has issued somewhat muddled and tentative statements that they would be willing to see these weapons removed but it is unclear that the Turkish military would support this. In fact, some have suggested that acquiescing to the removal of these weapons is a red line that Turkey's civilian government had better not cross unless it wants real trouble with the military.It has even been suggested that if Iran acquires nulcear weapons, Turkey will feel obliged to develop its own independent arsenal despite the protestations of the current government that it would not do so.Those interested in this subject can begin their research at the website of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The BAS has an extensive archive of material on Turkey, NATO and American tactical nulcear weapons.

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