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Giving Diplomacy a Chance

Posted by alanmirs on May 28, 2010

I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor

Giving Diplomacy
a Chance

Published: May 26, 2010

The international community, including Turkey and Brazil, is in staunch
opposition to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are also
dedicated to achieving a world without nuclear weapons. In the case of the
Iranian nuclear program, we firmly believe that a process of result-oriented
negotiation is needed to avoid a slide toward conflict.

Lack of trust and confidence has been hindering positive movement on this
issue, which is critical for regional security and prosperity. We are
emboldened, however, by what has been achieved in Tehran only days ago.

Since October 2009, the focus has been on a deal to provide fuel to the
Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for the removal of 1,200 kilograms of
low-enriched uranium from Iran’s stocks. As proposed by the International Atomic
Energy Agency, this deal would be a confidence-building measure as well as a
humanitarian requirement in view of the research reactor’s role in the diagnosis
and treatment of almost a million patients in Iran.

The deal fell apart at the end of last year amid mutual suspicion. In
consultation with the United States and other allies, Turkey and Brazil
intervened to broker a new accord. The joint declaration that was signed by
Turkey, Brazil and Iran in Tehran on May 17 reflected a major breakthrough.

Accordingly, Iran agreed to remove from its territory 1,200 kilograms of
low-enriched uranium — the exact amount specified by the I.A.E.A. proposal —
within one month once the appropriate arrangements are concluded. The
low-enriched uranium would be deposited in Turkey in one batch. The deposit will
be made at the beginning of the process before any amount of nuclear fuel is
delivered to Iran. The Tehran declaration also states that the nuclear fuel
exchange will create a positive and constructive atmosphere, thus presenting an
opportunity for a forward-looking process. Thus, it reopens the prospect of
broader negotiations with Iran in any place, including Turkey and Brazil.

This joint declaration is not only the result of our dedicated work but also
the culmination of the engagement strategy put in place by President Obama and
followed by the other P5+1 countries — Russia, China, France, Britain and
Germany — as part of a vision of enhanced and effective multilateral
cooperation. Definitive action must now be taken to make sure that there is a
sustained and working engagement track. There is only one viable solution to
disagreements with Iran over its nuclear program, and that is a negotiated
diplomatic solution.

Some critics of the Tehran declaration refer to the fact that it does not
treat all problems surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. This was never the
purpose of the original agreement. But we believe that the declaration helps to
address the entire issue by providing essential confidence-building, the key
missing component thus far. It creates the long-sought opportunity to address
the issues through dialogue and engagement. The Tehran declaration needs to be
given the opportunity to work. Threats and rhetorical statements need to be
avoided. As was clear during the negotiations of the declaration, fulfillment of
all pledges and commitments is essential for the continued engagement of all
parties involved, including Brazil and Turkey.

In the presence of deep mutual mistrust there will always be those who
display skepticism about the feasibility of any negotiated outcome. But there is
now sufficient substance to give negotiations a chance. Missing it may well be
regretted for generations to come.

Ahmet Davutoglu and Celso Amorim are foreign ministers, respectively, of
Turkey and Brazil.



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