Lula and Erdogan have cleared Tehran’s clouds
In approximately one year two men will have red faces. That’s when the world will know that Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan were suckered by the leaders of Iran.
It took Iran around 8 months to double its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU), half of which it has now agreed to swap for 20% enriched uranium under a deal brokered by the Brazilian and Turkish leaders. That still leaves it with 1200 kg of LEU, an unrestrained capacity to continue working its centrifuges and, possibly, clandestine facilities where it can produce weapons-grade uranium. In other words, Iran can get as close to building a nuclear bomb as it wishes to. Further, to the extent that that deal takes the international pressure off Iran it gives Tehran the time it needs to get closer to its self-defined finish line.
For now, Brazil and Turkey have avoided getting into a difficult position having to vote against Iran at the UN Security Council where they are currently non-permanent members. Since it was the Obama administration once floated the proposal for such a swap, the United States will find it hard to oppose it now, despite the facts having changed substantially since last October when it first mooted the idea. China will heave a sigh of relief too, since it too will not need to support tougher sanctions against Tehran. Everyone—other than the United States—wins. For now.
As we know from the North Korean story, what Iran needs most is time and diplomatic space. That, thanks now to Messrs Lula and Erdogan, it has acquired.
After that, it will be fait accompli.