RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil and Turkey on Thursday called on world powers to accept their deal with Iran meant to rein in its nuclear program, but the United States dismissed their initiative as “dangerous”.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, joined by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, charged that Western powers were aggravating the conflict with Iran and had failed to negotiate in good faith.
“We did everything (the West) wanted and everything we could, now they have to say clearly whether they want to build peace or if they want to build conflict — Turkey and Brazil are for peace,” Lula told reporters as the two met in Brasilia.
They had each traveled to Tehran to broker the fuel swap deal, under which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium abroad as a way to counter fears that Tehran was working to make nuclear weapons, which it denies.
The deal, announced last month, was greeted with scepticism by the United States and other powers, who say Iran has failed to stick to earlier agreements. It was similar to a plan drafted by the U.N. last year which was not realized .
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is pressing the U.N. Security Council pass a new round of sanctions on Iran, condemned the Brazil/Turkish approach.
DEAL “BUYS TIME” - U.S.
“We think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous not less,” she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.
“Certainly we have very serious disagreements with Brazil’s diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran,” she added.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting Brazil, said Iran had to do more to dispel international concerns. “At the heart of this crisis there appears to be a serious lack of trust and confidence in Iran,” Ban said.
While declaring it has no intent to make nuclear weapons, “Iran has at the same time declared it will continue the (uranium) enrichment process,” Ban told reporters in Rio, where he was attending a U.N. forum.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and China which have previously resisted such international action, have agreed on a draft resolution to impose new sanctions on Tehran.
Russia’s support touched off acrimonious exchanges with Iran, and Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed frustration over the failure of its efforts to resolve the nuclear issue.
“To our great regret, during years — not just months — Iran’s response to these efforts has been unsatisfactory, mildly speaking,” Lavrov said.
But he said the Turkey-Brazil-Iran deal would be an important breakthrough if implemented and later telephoned Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and “pledged active cooperation in pushing forward the negotiation process,” a Russian government statement said.
Editing by David Storey