Midsize, non-nuclear powers enter world stage

Treading where the U.S. and its European allies have failed to make any significant headway, the leaders of Turkey and Brazil have now engaged personally in dealing with the globally important Iran/nuclear issue– and they seem to be making real progress in de-escalating the tensions around it.
In Tehran today, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters his government has agreed to ship about half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for the further enriched kind of fuel required to run a medical reactor.
The deal comes as the culmination of personal visits undertaken to Iran by Turkish Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva.
If this deal goes through, Erdogan and Lula’s diplomatic breakthrough will have a large impact not only on resolution of the globally vital Iran/nuclear issue itself but also on the whole face and structure of world politics.
The U.S., Britain, France, and Germany have all been pushing– within the ‘P5+1′ forum established specifically a couple of years ago to add Germany’s economic (and pro-U.S.) heft to the UN’s traditional P5 leadership– to impose a U.S.-designed solution on Iran, primarily by ratcheting up hostile economic actions against Iran backed up by a threat of military action.
Within the P5+1, the other two members of the P5, China and Russia, have adopted a fairly passive stance on the issue, showing neither any great support for the western countries’ line nor any readiness to actively resist it.
Enter the leaders of Turkey and Brazil– two significantly rising, mid-size countries whose current governments are generally pro-western but have also shown their willingness to challenge Washington where they judge their own core interests outweigh those of the U.S.
In contrast to the P5’s membership group, which coincides exactly with the group of five nations “allowed” to have nuclear weapons– for a while anyway– under the terms of the worldwide Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Turkey and Brazil are determinedly non-nuclear states. Both have good relations, including military relations, with the U.S. But perhaps most importantly, the current governments of these two states enjoy a wide and indisputable democratic mandate from their own citizenries– as well as considerable soft-power (diplomatic and economic) heft within the regions of which they are a part.
Therefore, though some European diplomats have apparently been a little huffy about the deal Erdogan and Lula achieved in Tehran, it would seem very counter-productive for the western governments to try to do anything active to try to undermine it.
That does not mean they won’t try, of course. All the western governments have been subjected to great pressure by Israel to continue ratcheting up the pressure on Iran; and it seems doubtful that either that pressure or those governments’ susceptibility to it will end overnight.
This is a great– and potentially very hopeful– story, in so many different respects. Watch this space.

4 thoughts on “Midsize, non-nuclear powers enter world stage

  1. Jack

    This is indeed a hopeful sign in many respects. It may avoid the Iran confrontation, and it is certainly helpful to see such emerging nations taking on a stronger role in international affairs and not simply ceding all diplomatic initiative to the US. It also coincides with my view that Turkey recognizes that it will never be accepted into Europe and is turning East and reasserting itself as the bridge between east and west.
    On the other hand, it has been pointed out that the amount of nuclear material involved in the exchange, although it is essentially the same as the original proposal a year ago , now only represents less than 1/2 of Iran’s stockpile, whereas back then it represented nearly all of it. This is the “out” for Obama/Clinton to say it is now insufficient and still press for sanctions. It does seem that the move may well be sufficient to satisfy China and Russia however and thus frustrate the US/Israeli push.

  2. epppie

    The Iran nuclear issue is not vital at all. It’s an insignifigant issue, in itself, important ONLY because the US and Israel insist on it. That and only that makes it important. And it’s in that light that this pushback from the non-aligned movement is truly earthshaking. Where China and Russia feared to tread, Brazil and Turkey have gone. And, predictably, the warmongering nations, led by the US, have already blown off this amazing breakthrough. So now, you coopted alternapundits have no choice. If you care at all about being on the side of truth and justice, you MUST call Obama out for the warmonger he is if he continues to scoff at this deal. Period. You have no choice anymore. You either stand on the side of truth and peace, or you stand on the side of lies and war. YOU MUST MAKE YOUR CHOICE NOW.

  3. Tord Steiro

    I think the prospective role of Russia could be added to this story:
    1. Turkey and Russia are seemingly teaming up on nuclear issues, and the countries appears to be improving diplomatic relations. Further, they more or less encircle the EU, and, hence, they share some common interests with each other, and with the EU.
    2. The fact that Russia is already in the P5, should not be underestimated if Turkey puts some weight behind a viable solution. It would be in Russia’s interest to back Turkey and Brazil in the P5.
    3. At last, of course, Russia have certain nuclear ties to Iran. Which means they have both particular influence and particular interests in the Iranian issue. Iran is also in their neighbourhood, and close to areas troubling Russia.
    Of course, if you look at the long run, it is also in the interest of both Turkey and Russia – on the one side – and the EU – on the other side – to stay close to each other. I think Turkey si simply too big to ever become full EU members, but some kind of close association agreement is about certain, as it is claerly in the interest of both parties. The same goes for Russia, only difference being that Russians do not want EU membership while most Turks do.
    What the agreements will look like is nothing I will try to predict, but I find it very unlikely that the EU will not endorse a comprehensive approach with backing from both Turkey and Russia. This will be one more opportunity to build the relationship all parties know they need.

  4. Christina

    Agree with eppie. The Iranian ‘nuclear crisis’ is a red herring, merely a stick with which to beat iran and force it into being yet another compliant Middle Eastern state. if the EU and US were genuinely concerened about Iran’s nuclear programme, they would be applauding this deal. Instead, they are sulking and pouring cold water all over it. They are in a huff because Turkey and Brazil didn’t know their place and stole a march on them – big time. The deal reached is pretty much the same as the one the ‘internatinal community’ was trying to force on Iran for months. The only difference is that it hasn’t been brokered by the big Western powers. And that’s what bothers them. Enriched uranium is neither here nor there.

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