Archive for the ‘Iranian Policy’ Category

Can Brazil Stop Iran?

April 4, 2012

Joe Mortis

BRAZIL, the saying used to go, is the land of the future — and always will be. But when Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, visits the White House next week, she will come as the leader of a country whose future has arrived.

With huge new offshore oil discoveries and foreign investment flooding in, Brazil’s economy, growing twice as fast as America’s, has surpassed Britain’s to become the world’s seventh largest. As a member of the Group of 20 and host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Brazil is an emerging global leader.

But there is one area where it has an opportunity to lead and has failed to: preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Brazil should take the bold step of voluntarily ending its uranium enrichment program and calling on other nations, including Iran, to follow its example. (more…)

Advertisements

Iranian Nuclear Deal Raises Fears in West

May 18, 2010
[irannuke0517] Vahid Salemi/Associated PressFrom left to right, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, joined hands after signing a nuclear fuel swap deal, in Tehran on Monday.

A new Iranian offer to ship out about half of its nuclear fuel—in a surprise deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey—posed a fresh obstacle to U.S.-led efforts to punish Iran for its nuclear program, and underlined U.S. difficulties in affirming its global leadership amid the assertiveness of smaller powers. (more…)

Can Brazil Save the World From War With Iran?

May 3, 2010

Sao Paulo — For the last several decades, fundamental international issues of war and peace have been largely determined by a small group of countries, especially the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, with some input from the other so-called G7 industrial democracies: Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council each have a veto over UN Security Council resolutions; they are also the only countries recognized as nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We are now at a new moment in international relations, in which countries outside of the permanent members of the Security Council and their handpicked allies are insisting on having some meaningful input into these issues, and are starting to have some success in pressing their case for inclusion. Brazil has been a leader in these efforts.

The most striking example of this shift is the recent willingness of Brazil and Turkey to challenge the leadership of the United States on the question of responding to Iran’s nuclear program. (more…)

Lula’s Nods to Iran Sow Brazil’s Growing Confusion With Chavez

March 15, 2010

March 15 (Bloomberg) — When Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defends Iran’s right to a nuclear program and makes plans to visit Tehran in May, he is following the path of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The similarities only go so far.

Chavez, who has visited Iran eight times, is supporting the Islamic Republic and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because he views the Iranian leader as a fellow “gladiator of the anti- imperialist battle” against the U.S.

Lula’s motivation is less ideological than strategic, say analysts in Brazil and the U.S. His policy is aimed at converting Brazil’s economic muscle into global clout by pushing “south-south” trade and political ties with developing countries, they say. Iran’s 74 million consumers make it an attractive market, and Lula’s resistance to Iran sanctions helps safeguard Brazil’s civilian nuclear program from outside interference.

“It’s not about embracing Iran,” said Matias Spektor, a Brazilian foreign policy expert and visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. “Lula believes that international agreements like the nuclear non-proliferation treaty can’t be used selectively by great powers to punish weaker countries.” (more…)

Brazil Steers an Independent Course – WSJ

January 4, 2010

Washington needs to rethink its assumptions on South America.

Until recently, the Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the United States were natural allies who shared many foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin America. Brazil, after all, is a friendly democracy with a growing market economy and Western cultural values.

It will soon be the fifth largest economy in the world. It recently discovered billions of barrels of petroleum in the deep waters off its coast and is an agricultural powerhouse. It has also made significant progress in eradicating poverty. It therefore seemed only natural to expect that as Brazil became “more like us,” it would seek to play a more active and constructive role in this hemisphere, and that U.S. and Brazilian political and security interests would largely coincide.

This now seems like wishful thinking. On a number of important political and security issues, Washington and Brasilia recently have not seen eye to eye. Nor has Brazil shown much leadership in tackling the important political and security challenges facing the region.

One example is Brazil’s role in UNASUR (Union of South American Nations). At a September meeting in Quito focused on regional security issues, topics not discussed included the multibillion-dollar arms race in the region, the granting of sanctuary and other forms of aid by Venezuela to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Colombian narco-guerrilla group, and the growing nuclear cooperation between Iran and Venezuela. Instead, Brazil joined UNASUR in criticizing Colombia for having agreed to allow the U.S. to use seven of its military bases for counterterrorist and counter narcotics activities inside Colombia.

The fact that Colombia has been under attack by an armed guerrilla group supported by some members of the Union was not considered relevant to the organization’s decision to criticize Colombia for seeking help from Washington. Furthermore, none of the democratic countries in South America, including Brazil, has offered military or even rhetorical support to besieged Colombia.

Another example is Brazil’s changing position concerning the importance of democratic governance. Both Brazil and the U.S. initially opposed the Honduran military’s removal from office of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya, despite the fact that Mr. Zelaya had violated Honduras’s constitution.

Brazil’s interest in democracy in Honduras does not, however, extend to Cuba. Only weeks earlier, Brazil voted in the Organization of American States to lift the membership ban on Cuba—a country that has not held a democratic election in 50 years. This decision contradicted the organization’s democratic charter.

Brazil also has never tried to mobilize support against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s use of democratic institutions to systematically destroy that country’s democracy. On the contrary, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is supporting Venezuela’s efforts to join Mercosur (a South American customs union), despite rules that limit membership to democratic countries.

amcol0104 Associated Press

Brazilian President Lula da Silva, right, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Finally, there is the issue of Brazil’s apparent lack of concern regarding Iran’s increasing penetration into Latin America through Venezuela. There are now weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela without any customs or immigration controls. Venezuela has also signed agreements with Iran for transferring nuclear technology, and there is speculation it is giving Iran access to Venezuelan uranium deposits.

Instead of expressing concern over Iran’s activities in Latin America, Brazil is drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its $2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future. President Lula recently hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brazil. He reiterated his support for Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses, while insisting that there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Several conclusions can be drawn from Brazil’s behavior. First, Brazil wants to prevent the U.S. from expanding its military involvement in South America, which Brazil regards as its sphere of influence. Second, Brazil much prefers working within multilateral institutions, rather than acting unilaterally.

Within these institutions, Brazil seeks to integrate all regional players, achieve consensus and avoid conflict and fragmentation—all worthy goals. But these are procedural, rather than substantive, goals.

Stated differently, Brazil’s multilateral efforts in the region seem to value the appearance of leadership over finding real solutions to the growing political and security threats facing Latin America. These conclusions do not imply that the U.S. and Brazil have no overlapping interests, or that they cannot work together to solve particular regional or even global issues. They do mean Washington may need to rethink its assumptions regarding the extent to which Brazil can be relied on to deal with political and security problems in Latin America in ways that are also compatible with U.S. interests.

OPINION: THE AMERICAS
JANUARY 4, 2010, 10:39 A.M. ET

Ms. Purcell is the director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami.

Brazil’s President Elbows U.S. on the Diplomatic Stage

November 22, 2009

BRASÍLIA — Brazil’s ambitions to be a more important player on the global diplomatic stage are crashing headlong into the efforts of the United States and other Western powers to rein in Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, is set to receive Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, here on Monday in his first state visit to Brazil. The visit is part of a larger push by Mr. da Silva to wade into the seemingly intractable world of Middle East politics, and follows visits in the last two weeks by Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

But the visit is drawing criticism from lawmakers and former diplomats here and in the United States, who say it could undercut Western efforts to press Iran on its nuclear program, and consequently chill Brazil’s relations with the United States and damage its growing reputation as a global power.

Brazilian officials say the goal of the visit is to strengthen commercial ties between the two countries and help bring peace to the Middle East.

“This is part of Brazil projecting its role and strength as a global player,” said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy research group in Washington. “And part of this has to do with Brazil sending a message to Washington that it will deal whomever it wants to deal with.”

And beyond the nuclear standoff, critics in Brazil and the United States say Mr. da Silva’s reception legitimizes Mr. Ahmadinejad just five months after what most of the world sees as his fraudulent re-election, followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent.

“This state visit is a gross error, a terrible mistake,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “He is illegitimate with his own people, and Brazil is now going to give him the air of legitimacy at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. It makes no sense to me, and it tarnishes the image of Brazil, quite frankly.”

Relations between the United States and Brazil were already tense after Mr. da Silva’s government criticized the United States over its handling of the crisis in Honduras and increasing its military presence in Colombia.

But Mr. da Silva’s overture to Iran is consistent with President Obama’s policy of engagement, and the Obama administration says it is optimistic that the meeting will not damage and at best could reinforce the efforts already under way by Washington and European powers to deal with Iran.

“We would hope that all our friends and allies would understand that this is really a critical moment for Iran itself,” Ian C. Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said Thursday. “We would hope that Brazil would play a constructive role in trying to get Iran to do the right thing and fulfill its international obligations.”

Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister, said Mr. da Silva was encouraged by Western leaders, including President Obama, to seek a “direct and open dialogue” with Iran, in particular on the nuclear issue.

“It was said and reiterated that it was in the interest of Western nations that Brazil has a good interface with Iran,” Mr. Amorim said in an interview.

Brazilian officials said Mr. da Silva would try to sell Iran on the benefits of a Brazilian-style nuclear program, which is constitutionally limited to civilian use.

But Mr. Amorim made clear that Brazil did not see its role as carrying water for the proposed agreement for Iran to export most of its enriched uranium for processing into nuclear fuel.

“We are not here to convince Iran to accept some proposal,” he said. “Brazil is interested in peace.”

Since his election in 2002, Mr. da Silva has sought to cement Brazil’s dominance as Latin America’s economic and diplomatic leader, using its economic might to raise Brazil’s foreign-policy profile.

His government has also lobbied for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and has become a respected voice in world climate change discussions. In recent months, he has added Middle Eastern diplomacy to his portfolio.

Brazil is no stranger to the region. Its national oil company, Petrobras, is helping Iran develop its oil fields and the two countries did about $2 billion in trade in 2007, mostly in Brazilian exports of food to Iran, Mr. Amorim said.

Brazil joined United Nations peacekeeping missions in Egypt after the 1956 Suez Crisis and has been involved in the Middle East ever since, said David Fleischer, a political science professor at the University of Brasília.

“Brazil is just starting to realize the weight it has,” Mr. Amorim said. “It wasn’t Brazil that went looking for the Middle East, it was the Middle East that went looking for Brazil.”

Brazilian officials say the holy grail of Mr. da Silva’s Middle Eastern initiative is to improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and they see Iran as a key player in resolving the conflict.

Success in this endeavor “would really put Brazil on the map and might put Lula in line for the Nobel Prize,” Mr. Fleischer said.

But it would have been difficult to have chosen a more formidable or polarizing quest. Many critics do not see Mr. Ahmadinejad — who has denied the Holocaust, called for Israel to be wiped off the map and backs anti-Israel militias — as a constructive force in the Middle East.

More than 1,500 people protested his visit this month in São Paulo, home to Brazil’s largest Jewish community, and a smaller protest took place on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Another is planned for Brasília on Monday.

It is not only the Israeli side that is leery of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian leader, said after meeting Mr. da Silva in Brazil on Friday that he had asked him to urge Iran to end its support for Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that controls Gaza.

But both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Perez urged Mr. da Silva to join the Middle East peace process. “Brazil, as an important country, and President Lula, as a respected leader, can play an important role,” Mr. Abbas told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Some political analysts and American officials say that in his effort to burnish his credentials as a statesman, Mr. da Silva is marching to his own drummer rather than cooperating with allies to achieve larger geopolitical goals.

“As Brazil becomes more relevant on climate change and in world economic forums it is not going to be able to so openly criticize or be antagonistic with other major powers without paying a political price for it,” said Christopher Garman, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy in New York. “Brazilian policy makers will no longer be able to have their cake and eat it too.”

But a diplomatic success would go a long way toward muting the criticism.

“Brazil should expect criticism for hosting Ahmadinejad to be sure,” said Julia E. Sweig, a Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But if it can play a moderating role — and clearly Washington is hoping as much — on the nuclear issue, it can surely deal with the critics.”

Published: November 22, 2009

Mery Galanternick contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil’s President Elbows U.S. on the Diplomatic Stage

Waldemar Jezler

Lula Says U.S. Shouldn’t Be Broker Middle East Talks

November 20, 2009

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the U.S. holds responsibility for the crisis in the Middle East and shouldn’t be coordinating peace talks.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians ought to be managed by the United Nations, Lula said in an interview with two local radio stations in Salvador, Bahia state, according to an audio file on the presidency’s Web site.

“As long as the United States is trying to negotiate peace there won’t be peace, because other participants need to be seated at the negotiating table and talk,” Lula said. “The one who should oversee the negotiations is the United Nations, and that’s why Brazil wants to reform the UN system.”

Brazil is seeking a broader role in the Middle East, after hosting Israeli president Shimon Peres last week and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today. Lula is scheduled to meet Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Nov. 23 in talks built around trade relations with the wider objective of engaging the Persian country in political discussions.

Lula is “prepared” to play a role in the negotiating process, Abbas told reporters in Salvador today, during a joint press conference with Lula.

To contact the reporter on this story: Iuri Dantas in Brasilia at idantas@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: November 20, 2009 11:41 EST

Waldemar Jezler

Ahmadinejad Welcome May Weaken Brazil Trust as It Expands Trade

November 18, 2009

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s goals of expanding his nation’s global influence and strengthening commercial ties with Iran may collide as he hosts President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Brasilia next week.

Lula wants to show Brazil can play a larger international role as it pursues a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. The talks will center on a plan to increase financing for Brazilian exports to Iran, which more than doubled to $1.13 billion since 2002. Iran is also considering building steel plants in Brazil to tap the country’s iron ore reserves.

…

No Superpowers

“Cooperation among underdeveloped countries is the way to fulfill our needs without the intervention of superpowers,” Mohsen Shaterzadeh, Iranian ambassador to Brazil, said in an interview from Brasilia. “The nations of the South, the underdeveloped world, have replaced the American market after this crisis.”

Exports to Iran, which holds the world’s second-biggest oil and natural gas reserves, account for less than 1 percent of Brazil’s sales abroad.

Iranians are ready to buy or rent land in Brazil to grow soy and corn to help assure supplies and will also consider producing ethanol, Shaterzadeh said.

In exchange, Iranians are seeking contracts to supply Brazilian farmers with fertilizers, the ambassador said.

Economic Strength

Lula is trying to increase his international role and show that Brazil can pursue its own policy even if it displeases other Western nations, said Brazil’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia[more…]