Iran nuclear deal still possible-Brazil minister

Nov 30, -0001
BRASILIA: Brazil still sees room for a negotiated solution to Iran's nuclear program but acknowledges Tehran's plans to continue uranium enrichment are a concern neither country addressed in talks, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said on Friday.

Brazil and Turkey helped broker an agreement under which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium abroad, reviving a fuel swap plan drafted by the United Nations with the aim of keeping Iran's nuclear activities in check.

Washington regards that deal as a delaying tactic by Iran, and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council agreed on a draft resolution to impose new sanctions on Iran.

"Of course there need to be reassurances, discussions -- many things still need to happen. It's difficult but there is a way out," Amorim told foreign correspondents in his office.

"You need to give it some time to work."

If the sanctions were approved, Iran would cancel the accord with Turkey and Brazil, a member of Iran's parliament said.

Several countries were still open to the possibility of pursuing talks at the same time as imposing sanctions on Iran, said Amorim.

"Many countries have said they are committed to a two-track approach. The thing about two tracks is that at one point, people go different ways and you have to decide which way you'll go," Brazil's chief diplomat said.

Iran denies Western suspicions its secretive atomic energy program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability and has said it will continue enriching uranium for fuel for electricity generation.

Amorim acknowledged that Iran's insistence it would continue its highly enriched uranium activities was a valid concern to the global community. He said the issue had not been part of Brazil's talks with Iran.

"It wasn't on the agenda. Nobody told us, 'Hey if you don't stop 20 percent enrichment, forget the deal'," said Amorim.

Brazil argues Washington and other Western powers had prodded Brazil to try to revive the U.N. fuel swap deal proposed last October.

"We were encouraged directly or indirectly ... to implement the October proposal without any leeway and that's what we did," said Amorim.

In a letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva two weeks ago, U.S. president Barack Obama said an Iranian uranium shipment abroad would generate confidence.

"From our point of view, a decision by Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad, would generate confidence and reduce regional tensions by cutting Iran's stockpile," Obama said, according to excerpts from the letter translated into Portuguese and seen by Reuters.

Brazil has warned against further U.N. sanctions on Iran, drawing parallels to the bombing of Iraq on the false assumption it had weapons of mass destruction.

Asked whether Brazil's mediation would still have been worthwhile if proof emerged that Iran had used Brazil to buy time to build a nuclear bomb, Amorim answered: "Was it worth bombing Iraq, killing 200,000 people, some say a million?" AGENCIES





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