Lula and Erdogan demonstrate their diplomatic clout

If President Obama had accomplished what Brazil and Turkey are about to pull off — a deal through which Iran will exchange its stockpile of enriched uranium in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor — then the US media would be hailing this as a diplomatic breakthrough. Instead, this is being described as a possible obstacle to sanctions. The New York Times reports:

Brazilian and Turkish government officials said Sunday that their leaders had brokered a tentative compromise with Iran in the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, a development that could undermine efforts in the United Nations to impose new sanctions on the Iranians.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that after 17 hours of talks in Tehran, ministers from Brazil, Iran and Turkey had reached an agreement on the “principles” to revive a stalled nuclear fuel-swap deal backed by the United Nations.

The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deal would be presented to the leaders of the countries for “final touches,” with a statement on the agreement expected as early as Monday. The exact terms, notably the amount of nuclear fuel to be swapped, were not revealed.

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, canceled an official visit to Azerbaijan late Sunday and instead joined officials in Tehran in what was seen as a sign of progress in the talks.

Laura Rozen adds:

[A] Washington Iran expert said the fact that the alleged nuclear deal was connected to Lula’s meeting with the Iranian Supreme Leader, as opposed to with the Iranian president, may be significant.

That signals that Khamenei “is endorsing the deal,” the National Iranian American Council’s Trita Parsi said, adding it may reduce the bouts of Iranian domestic political infighting that have plagued earlier rounds of negotiations that failed to hold up. “That means this is no longer Ahmadinejad’s nuclear deal, this is Khamenei’s nuclear deal.”

The Financial Times said:

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday praised Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for defying US calls to close ranks against the Islamic regime as the Brazilian leader arrived in Tehran seeking to mediate in the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Brazil in recent years [under Mr Lula] has differed from previous years,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told his visitor. He called on “independent” countries to assert their roles in global affairsnd help to change the UN so it does not favour powerful states.

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