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Tehran Trilateral Agreement and Vienna Group's Double Standard

By Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavi, President, Center for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies (translated by Iran Review)

Trilateral agreement between Iran, Brazil and Turkey on uranium exchange was signed in Tehran by heads of three states on May 17, opening a new chapter in Iran's nuclear case. The agreement was hailed by Iran, Turkey, Brazil, some member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, and political observers. The United States, the European Union, Russia and China, at first, described Tehran agreement a major step forward, though they also noted that it fell short of dispelling "global concerns."

from left: Brazil's FM & President, Iranian FM & President, Turkish PM & FM celebrate the nuclear fuel swap agreement signed in Tehran on May 17, 2010
10-point nuclear deal between Iran, Turkey and Brazil

Israel was the sole Middle Eastern state to show negative reaction by charging Iran with political maneuvering aimed at buying more time to go on with its nuclear ambitions.

Three days after disclosures about the agreement, a draft resolution engineered by the United States to impose new sanctions on Iran was submitted to the secretariat of the United Nations Security Council. The Russian foreign minister voiced his country's support for new sanctions resolution against Iran and Beijing took a similar stance.

Both Russia and China announced that they had done their best to tone down the contents of the resolution. Turkey and Brazil, in addition to Iran, expressed dissatisfaction over positions taken by the permanent members of the Security Council, considering them as harmful to constructive negotiations with Iran.

This article reviewed impacts of Tehran agreement on international relations and the reasons behind lack of enthusiasm over the new resolution, especially on the part of China and Russia, as permanent members of the Security Council. It will also describe future outlooks of the existing trend.

1. The group of western countries known as 5+1 reached an agreement with Tehran last year to exchange Iran's low enriched uranium with the high enriched uranium produced by France with Russia as intermediary country where Iran's uranium was to be deposited. Due to negative background of France in atomic cooperation with Iran, Tehran called for France to be replaced by another country as the source of high enriched uranium, which is needed as fuel for Tehran Research Reactor. The request elicited vehement reaction of 5+1, though Iran announced that it would continue its efforts to find a trustworthy partner. Finally, and in line with the Islamic Republic's foreign policy goals, Turkey was chosen as the country where Iran's 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium will be kept with Brazil (a country capable of producing 20-percent enriched uranium) as guarantor of the deal. Turkey is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a close ally of the United States. Brasilia also enjoys cordial ties with Washington. These issues were certainly influential in Iran's decision. Therefore, the first question is why the United States and EU are not satisfied with Tehran declaration? Reactions shown by Russia and China will be dealt with later. The first answer is that Washington, London and Paris are not willing for new players to be added to international negotiations aimed at resolving disputes among countries as they are willing to have monopoly over such issues as Iran's nuclear case. The United States, UK, and France, and to a lesser degree, Russia and China, are wary about introduction of new players to international power games as each new element playing a role in regional and international crises can reduce influence and impact of big powers and further increase influence of such countries on global developments. The contents of trilateral Tehran declaration prove that by adding Turkey and Brazil to nuclear talks, Iran intended to show 5+1 and international community that international community should welcome role of new players in settlement of regional and international disputes and get rid of hegemonic policies of western states. This approach by Iran has drawn attention from most independent countries and international observers as the United States and its western allies have not succeeded in resolving regional and international disputes (except for bilateral issues or problems arising from multilateral treaties). A major example is the conflict between Arabs and Israel and the way that conflict has been handled by western states. Therefore, countries which are not under the influence of the United States and other big powers have every right to be pessimistic about standards governing western policies for the settlement of regional and international disputes. A case to the point is Palestine after whose occupation some 60 years ago, the United States has come up with many plans and strategies to end the crisis, which is the most chronic political crisis in the world, but it has not even managed to get belligerent parties to respect the Security Council resolutions. The main reason is all-out support for Israel as default option in Washington's regional policies because it leaves no room for honest mediatory approaches. The United States, as said before, has not allowed independent parties to get involved in Arab-Israel conflict settlement (as a chronic crisis) during the past 60 years and, at the same time, has not been able to play the role of an honest mediator (due to Washington's strategic interest in Israel which is a party to that conflict).

Given the above facts, Iran is totally entitled to use its free will and choose a country (or countries) which are capable of solving the nuclear crisis while enjoying cordial relations with both parties to that crisis. If overcoming concerns about Iran's nuclear program were the main goal, looking for ways of achieving that goal should not be made dependent on conditions which are of grave concern to, at least, one party to the dispute.

2. There are various considerations about the reaction shown to Tehran declaration by Russia and China. China has been one of the biggest trade partners of Iran in recent years. Trade volume between two countries has exceeded 30 billion dollars and the figure is still rising due to Iran's limitations in dealing with other countries. Russia is also a major partner of Iran in Central Asia and West Asia. The two countries enjoy common stances, especially on restricting expansion of NATO in the Central Asia. Russia, on the other hand, has been a major source of weaponry for Iran and commissioning Bushehr nuclear power plant is one of its obligations. By signing START 2 treaty with Russia, the United States has tried to get Moscow in line with its policies on Iran's nuclear case by promising to reduce its strategic nuclear weapons cache and postponing establishment of missile shield in some former republics of the Soviet Union. Some observers, however, maintain that Iran's new strategy in entering Turkey and Brazil, as new variables, to nuclear equation instead of Russia, has played a great role in Moscow's disenchantment and its subsequent agreement to new sanctions resolution. Other observers yet maintain that serious haggling with the United States over the necessity of smart sanctions against Iran by Russia and China has already made adoption of severe sanctions against Tehran difficult and Iran should not expect more from those countries. They quote recent remarks made by head of the Russian atomic energy organization who noted that Moscow was committed to on-time commissioning of Bushehr nuclear power plant as it has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear case.

3. The salient feature of Washington's early reaction to Tehran declaration was admission by the US government that trilateral agreement was a major stride toward final solution of the nuclear case, though it was less than sufficient. Washington's position indicated that the agreement has done away with some western countries' concerns about Iran's nuclear program. Further concerns could be dispelled through more negotiations between Iran and 5+1 and Iran's cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provided that Iran's rights, especially to enrich uranium under supervision of IAEA, will not be ignored in subsequent talks between Iran and Vienna group. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also announced on Friday, May 21, that Tehran agreement was of grave importance and added that the agreement provided an important opportunity to settle disputes surrounding Iran's nuclear case.

In view of the above facts, 5+1 should cooperate in the implementation of Tehran agreement since continued talks between Iran and Vienna Group is a pillar of the agreement. Therefore, any prejudgment about possible outcomes of Tehran agreement before the beginning of negotiations with Vienna Group will stymie efforts made by Turkey and Brazil to reduce tension in the nuclear case. More importantly, obstructing that agreement through lack of cooperation and forcing the Security Council by western countries, especially the United States and UK, to adopt a new sanctions resolution against Iran, will prove that those countries, and Washington in particular, are not trustworthy and Iran has been right in looking for other partners by brining Turkey and Brazil into nuclear equation.

4. Signing trilateral agreement of Tehran and readiness of the Islamic Republic to negotiate with Vienna Group on the basis of that agreement will make it difficult for western countries to pursue the case through the Security Council under conditions when preliminary measures are being taken to resolve the crisis. Some international analysts maintain that submission of draft resolution by Washington to the Security Council aims to force Iran take hasty steps for the implementation of trilateral agreement. American officials should know that even if they were bent on ignoring the agreement and pressuring the Security Council into adopting a new anti-Iran resolution, they would not be able to forge necessary consensus in the Council. In addition, if Washington continued to put more pressure on member states of the Security Council, Tehran agreement would be considered null and void. In that case, the United States, and President Barack Obama in particular, will become notorious for having sabotaged a constructive agreement which could have brought a challenging international case to peaceful solution. On the other side, the Islamic Republic of Iran will prove to international community that it has done its part in reducing international tension by hammering out trilateral agreement of Tehran.

About Iran Review: Iran Review ( is the leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website - organization representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran's political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

... Payvand News - 06/23/10 ... --

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