Turkey, Brazil scramble to seal Iran nuclear fuel swap deal
A senior Turkish official said Friday that momentum for UN sanctions was building, even as Brazil and Turkey work to find a last-minute nuclear fuel swap deal that would allay Western concerns on Iran nuclear ambitions.
Nuclear diplomacy is set to gather pace in coming days, with Brazil’s president visiting Tehran over the weekend, hoping along with Turkey to find a last-minute compromise fuel swap deal between Iran and Western nations.Skip to next paragraph
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Yet even with recent signals from Iran toward rekindling a nuclear fuel plan that has languished for more than seven months, Turkey is tempering optimism that a diplomatic solution can be found in time. The US has been spearheading a push for a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran to be imposed, possibly within weeks.
“There is nothing new going on” from the Iranian side, said a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official on Friday. “But let me tell you, on the other side, the track on sanctions is building up steam.”
Turkey: C'mon, we need concrete steps
A discussed trip to Tehran by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to join his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday is not likely, after a number of recent trips by foreign ministers between Tehran and Ankara. Turkey opposes sanctions, and currently holds a nonpermanent seat – like Brazil – on the 15-member Security Council.
“If [Erdogan] goes there … he wants something concrete to come out of this,” the Turkish official told journalists on the condition he not be named. “But we need to make some progress, and we’ve let that be known to the Iranians, that ‘c’mon, we have to show something concrete now, otherwise it’s going to be very difficult for us to make some headway.’ ”
A senior US State Department official told reporters in Washington that the Brazilian leader’s visit is “perhaps the last big shot at engagement” before sanctions. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called her Turkish counterpart this week to say that the US would nevertheless keep pushing for sanctions.
On Thursday, US President Barack Obama and Russian Dmitry Medvedev spoke by telephone; a White House statement afterward said the two “agreed to instruct their negotiators to intensify their efforts to reach conclusion as soon as possible.”