Is Obama’s word worth anything?

President Obama is either a liar or he has lost control of his own administration.

In a letter he sent to the president of Brazil in late April, Obama spelled out the terms on which the US would support a diplomatic initiative by Brazil and Turkey who hoped to revive a nuclear swap agreement that Iran had rejected last fall. Obama expressed his skepticism that Iran would make the necessary concessions. He was proved wrong, but then instead of welcoming Lula and Erdogan’s diplomatic accomplishment, Secretary Clinton dismissed it out of hand. If she did so with Obama’s consent, he has shown his word is worthless. If she did so on her own initiative, this president has lost his authority as chief executive.

This is what Obama wrote to Lula on April 20, 2010 (emphasis added):

His Excellency
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
Dear Mr. President:

I want to thank you for our meeting with Turkish PrinIe Miuister Erdogan during the Nuclear Security Summit. We spent some time focused on Iran, the issue of the provision of nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), and the intent of Brazil and Turkey to work toward finding an acceptable solution. I promised to respond in detail to your ideas. I have carefully considered our discussion, and I would like to offer a detailed explanation of my perspective and suggest a way ahead.

I agree with you that the TRR is an opportunity to pave the way for a broader dialogue in dealing with the more fundamental concerns of the intemational community regarding Iran’s overall nuclear program. From the beginning, I have viewed Iran’ s request as a clear and tangible opportunity to begin to build mutual trust and confidence, and thereby create time and space for a constructive diplomatic process. That is why the United States so strongly supported the proposal put forth by former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General EIBaradei.

The IAEA’s proposal was crafted to be fair and balanced, and for both sides to gain trust and confidence. For us, Iran’s agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s LEU stockpile. I want to underscore that this element is of fundamental importance for the United States. For Iran, it would receive the nuclear fuel requested to ensure continued operation of the TRR to produce needed medical isotopes and, by using its own material, Iran would begin to demonstrate peaceful nuclear intent. Notwithstanding Iran’s continuing defiance of five United Nations Security Council resolutions mandating that it cease its enrichment of uranium, we were prepared to support and facilitate action on a proposal that would provide Iran nuclear fuel using uranium enriched by Iran — a demonstration of our willingness to be creative in pursuing a way to build mutual confidence.

During the course of the consultations, we also recognized Iran’s desire for assurances. As a result, my team focused on ensuring that the lAEA’s proposal contained several built-in measures, including a U.S. national declaration of support, to send a clear signal from my government of our willingness to become a direct signatory and potentially even play a more direct role in the fuel production process, a central role for Russia, and the IAEA’s assumption of full custody of the nuclear material throughout the fuel production process. In effect, the IAEA’s proposal offered Iran significant and substantial assurances and commitments from the IAEA, the United States, and Russia. Dr. EI Baradei stated publicly last year that the United States would be assuming the vast majority of the risk in the IAEA’s proposal.

As we discussed, Iran appears to be pursuing a strategy that is designed to create the impression of flexibility without agreeing to actions that can begin to build mutual trust and confidence. We have observed Iran convey hints of flexibility to you and others, but formally reiterate an unacceptable position through official channels to the IAEA. Iran has continued to reject the IAEA’s proposal and insist that Iran retain its low-enriched uranium on its territory until delivery of nuclear fuel. This is the position that Iran formally conveyed to the IABA in January 2010 and again in February.

We understand from you, Turkey and others that Iran continues to propose that Iran would retain its LEU on its territory until there is a simultaneous exchange of its LEU for nuclear fuel. As General Jones noted during our meeting, it will require one year for any amount of nuclear fuel to be produced. Thus, the confidence-building strength of the IAEA’s proposal would be completely eliminated for the United States and several risks would emerge. First, Iran would be able to continue to stockpile LEU throughout this time, which would enable them to acquire an LEU stockpile equivalent to the amount needed for two or three nuclear weapons in a year’ s time. Second, there would be no guarantee that Iran would ultimately agree to the final exchange. Third, IAEA “custody” of lran’s LEU inside of Iran would provide us no measurable improvement over the current situation, and the IAEA cannot prevent Iran from re-assuming control of its uranium at any time.

There is a potentially important compromise that has already been offered. Last November, the IAEA conveyed to Iran our offer to allow Iran to ship its 1,200 kg of LEU to a third country — specifically Turkey — at the outset of the process to be held “in escrow” as a guarantee during the fuel production process that Iran would get back its uranium if we failed to deliver the fuel. Iran has never pursued the “escrow” compromise and has provided no credible explanation for its rejection. I believe that this raises real questions about Iran’s nuclear intentions, if Iran is unwilling to accept an offer to demonstrate that its LEU is for peaceful, civilian purposes. I would urge Brazil to impress upon Iran the opportunity presented by this offer to “escrow” its uranium in Turkey while the nuclear fuel is being produced.

Throughout this process, instead of building confidence Iran has undermined confidence in the way it has approached this opportunity. That is why I question whether Iran is prepared to engage Brazil in good faith, and why I cautioned you during our meeting. To begin a constructive diplomatic process, Iran has to convey to the IAEA a constructive commitment to engagement through official channels — something it has failed to do. Meanwhile, we will pursue sanctions on the timeline that I have outlined. I have also made clear that I will leave the door open to engagement with Iran. As you know, Iran has thus far failed to accept my offer of comprehensive and unconditional dialogue.

I look forward to the next opportunity to see you and discuss these issues as we consider the challenge of Iran’s nuclear program to the security of the international community, including in the U.N. Security Council.

Barack Obama

So what did Brazil and Turkey accomplish? An agreement by Iran to do exactly what Obama claimed he was seeking: that Iran would transfer 1200kg of LEU to be held in escrow by Turkey and in return for which, one year later, Iran would receive fuel rods for the TRR.

The US response? Secretary Clinton claimed there were “discrepancies” in the offer. These included that:

There is a recognition on the part of the international community that the agreement that was reached in Tehran a week ago between Iran and Brazil and Turkey only occurred because the Security Council was on the brink of publicly releasing the text of the resolution that we have been negotiating for many weeks. It was a transparent ploy to avoid Security Council action.

That is a truly Kafkaesque statement!

The US and its allies have been mounting diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran to force it to make concessions on the nuclear issue. As soon as Iran makes concessions, the US turns around and says the concessions are a “ploy” to avoid sanctions.

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  1. This only proves that the US administration is not interested in negotiations. Whatever Iran agrees to will not be enough for America. Once Iran makes a concession, the US will make another demand, and so on. The US an Israel are only interested in war!

    No wonder America is so discredited around the world.

  2. In fairness, it seems that Obama impressed upon the president of Brazil that “we will pursue sanctions on the timeline that I have outlined” regardless of the outcome of the uranium swap deal, and that is exactly what has happened.

    However, the existence of the swap deal will give nations like China the opportunity to further dilute sanctions, and perhaps avoid a vote in the Security Council altogether. As I understand it, we are still some ways from a conclusive final draft, much less a vote.

    Obama perhaps has other concerns, such as a Congress that is itching to impose more severe measures on Iran, such as forced boarding of ships which would be an act of war; and an Israeli government that is chomping at the bit to bomb Iran, or at least likes to be seen that way. So he is politically constrained to wield the stick at the same time as the carrot, however hypocritical it may look to you and me.

    I agree this is a mess, but Iran should follow through with the swap deal no matter what, and call the bluff of the international community. Maybe then the discussion will finally move on to the real issue, namely verification procedures that will guarantee that Iran is using its nuclear enrichment technology for exclusively peaceful purposes.

    If the U.S. never intended to negotiate seriously as Jose said above, that will be exposed now. Being so blatantly two-faced will have its price, so I suspect the U.S. will be dragged kicking and screaming down the path of diplomacy after all. Bravo to Turkey and Brazil for making this possible.

  3. The only message coming out of the White House is that the buck goes somewhere else.

  4. DE Tedooru says:

    One has to understand how Obama all his life swallowed being overwhelmed by sighing and submitting helplessly. As one whom so hailed him as a hero in 2008 I must now admit to being myself overwhelmed admitting helplessly: Obama is a disguise for Hillary. How else would one explain the free hand the Clintonistas have in Obama’s Administration, tolerance they enjoyed for the utter incompetent bloopers of Hillary as SecState, and the way a second rate general subjugates the Commander and Chief to his will…so the while Rahm Emmanuel wipes out hesitancy in the Administration Chicago style as if Al Capone with a baseball bat, always prorogued by the “F” word, his signature accomplishment in life. Obama had a chance to bring back America to what so many died for it to be and so many more dropped everything in their lives to come here for. But then all he can do is give speeches demanding bipartisan “crossing of the aisle” while his Congressional liaisons completely capitulate to corporatism. That he’s an improvement over Bush is very true, but that’s like saying you’ve got “Clever Hans” the horse tutoring you for your Calculus final instead of your family goldfish. Both are mere corporate pets!

    If America is to survive it needs heroes who can do extraordinary things, not mediocrities with connections; instead, Obama imposed on us lying and cheating Clintonistas. Unless Obama realizes that it’s not just that he’s in charge but how historic is this very last last chance America is getting with him in charge, we’re all just rearranging the chairs on the sun deck of the Titanic while Rahm Emanuel slits the throats of non-compliant activists while singing “My Wild Irish Rose” with a Yiddish accent and tap-dancing to cover the sounds of their last gasp groans. Even Jimmy Carter was silenced by the Zionist cabal controlling Democratic Party coffers for the sake of his son’s political career; so we should stop looking to Wash DC Democrats for answers as to where we go from here in the Mideast, looking for answers to Jerusalem instead. Like Uncle Tom, Obama stands there slowly waving his head and saying: what can I do, I’m only a minority in my own Cabinet?

  5. DE Tedooru sounds a familiar note to my thinking. Obama got the nomination because of his presence and oratory appeal to the populace while the Clinton center right favoring corporate policy and cabinet personnel, especially Hillary, would merely slide into and become the foundation of his administration.
    However regarding this article with Obama and Hillary’s political ‘gobblety gook’ intending to diminish the diplomatic nuclear swap initiative by Brazil and Turkey- I wonder, after yesterday’s informative piece- How the Israel lobby defended Israel’s military ties to apartheid South Africa by Paul Woodward, and given the mind-boggling facts of this covert project of Israel and South Africa that transpired without any questions or protest- how can the United States as the world super power, continue to knit pick and obfuscate Iran with such pitiful rhetoric time and time again. How often does it need to be said the US and Israel are the only threats, nuclear or other wise, in the region.

  6. Colin Murray says:

    If she did so with Obama’s consent, he has shown his word is worthless. If she did so on her own initiative, this president has lost his authority as chief executive.

    I’m betting the latter. Didn’t Pres. Obama have to cover for her several months ago when she ‘changed’ one of his policies on the fly, and he had to back her up or look the fool? She is playing him.