Brazil’s Lula Visits Iran in Last Ditch Effort to Avoid Sanctions [UPDATED]

Posted on May 14, 2010

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (best known as Lula), heads from Moscow to Iran this weekend where the final chapter in the sanctions against Iran will be written.  Having reached out to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and entertained him in Brazil, Lula is hoping that his now well-recognized ability to negotiate in tough circumstances will enable him to present the unified case of the UN Security Council to the Iranian leader.  The council stands firm against further development in Iran of nuclear energy unless it is under the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency and that Iran signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev waxed optimistic as he saw Lula off for Iran:

Given that my friend President Lula is an optimist, I will also be an optimist, and estimate it [the probability of his successful mission to Tehran] at 30 percent,” Medvedev said with a chuckle. He spoke in a televised joint press conference with Lula after Russian-Brazilian talks in Moscow.”I am very much counting on the mission of the Brazilian president to be successful,” he added, switching to a serious tone.

“This could be the last chance before the U.N. Security Council makes the already known decisions,” Medvedev said, referring to the U.N. decision on imposing sanctions against Iran. [CNN]

Brazil has sought for some time to maintain normal relations with Iran and to give them quarter to develop peaceful nuclear programs.  It is therefore not unusual that Lula has been the one to make this last appeal:

Brazilian interest in supporting Iran’s nuclear program dates from the early 1990s when it considered selling equipment from its own failed program to Iran until the United States stepped in to prevent the deal.[3] In recent years, Brazil has continued to engage in normal state relations with Iran despite sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program; Brasilia’s stated position is that the International Atomic Energy Agency, not the UN Security Council or independent powers, should resolve the dispute over the program. [4] In September 2007, Brazil’s President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva said that “Iran has the right to proceed with peaceful nuclear research and should not be punished just because of Western suspicions it wants to make an atomic bomb.…So far, Iran has committed no crime regarding the U.N. guidelines on nuclear weapons.” [5] The government’s view was reaffirmed in November 2008 when Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim stated that “Brazil does not recognize unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, whether by the United States or the European Union, [and] the Iranian government should fully cooperate with the agency because it is the best way to avoid sanctions.”[6] []

We will follow this story in this space over the weekend.

UPDATE 5/16/2010:

Lula has arrived in Iran.  Iranian press mentioned his visit but not the nuclear issue.

Brazil’s president is in Iran ahead of the Group of 15 developing nations meeting in Tehran. The group actually has 17 members — Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Lula also plans to meet Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on his trip, IRNA reported. [CNN]


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