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):
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.
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.