Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Brazil urges diplomacy on Iranian nuclear ambitions

Iran’s nuclear program has been a thorny issue that has pitted Western powers against the Islamic republic. Brazil has entered the fray be advocating that it could mediate and perhaps broker a deal.

While visiting Tehran this week Foreign Minister Celso Amorim (image) proposed intervention as a means of resolving "the single most important security issue that the world faces today". Amorim said that it was not necessary to “reinvent the wheel” but instead revive an international deal agreed upon last year. He also opposed imposing “unfair” sanctions against Iran and claimed that they had the right to pursue "peaceful nuclear activities" much like Brazil does.

Amorim’s declarations come as Brazil has tried to become a more important player on the global political and economic stage. Brazil’s is one of the temporary members of the U.N. Security Council and has therefore been aggressively lobbied by Iran. Hence Brazil’s relations with Iran (and, for that matter, possible intervention in the Israel-Palestine quagmire) have discomforted some U.S. officials.

Iran’s increased influence with a few Latin American governments has been of great concern from Washington such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who warned last year of Iran’s ``subversive activity'' in the region. Yet some higher-ups at the Pentagon have apparently not shared Gates’ concerns:
(U.S. Southern Command head General Douglas Fraser) appeared to contrast with a Pentagon report sent to Congress earlier in April. The report said the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' elite Qods force had a growing Latin American presence, "particularly in Venezuela" -- a claim Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has strongly denied…

"We see a growing Iranian interest and engagement with Venezuela. ... It's a diplomatic, it's a commercial presence. I haven't seen evidence of a military presence," Fraser said.

Asked whether he was contradicting the Pentagon report and earlier comments to the same effect by the director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Fraser said: "I don't see it as a contradiction."
Image- LAHT
Online Sources- Xinhua, Reuters, Voice of America, Christian Science Monitor, The Latin Americanist

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