Can Brazil Save the World from War with Iran?

Can Brazil Save the World from War with Iran?
by Robert Naiman

Sao Paulo – For the last several decades, fundamental international issues of war and peace have been largely determined by a small group of countries, especially the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the US, Britain, France, Russia and China, with some occasional input from other so-called G7 industrial democracies: Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council each have a veto over UN Security Council resolutions; they are also the only countries recognized as nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

We are now at a new moment in international relations, in which countries outside of the permanent members of the Security Council and their handpicked allies are insisting on having some meaningful input into global issues of war and peace, and are starting to have some success in pressing their case for inclusion. Brazil has been a leader in these efforts.
A striking example of this shift is the recent willingness of Brazil and Turkey to challenge the leadership of the United States on the question of responding to Iran’s nuclear program.

The governments of the United States, Britain and France are currently working to get new economic sanctions imposed against Iran in the United Nations Security Council, as punishment for Iran’s refusal to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Iran says it needs enriched uranium to supply its civilian nuclear power program and its medical research reactor, but the US has accused Iran of having ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon. Until now, as far as anyone knows, Iran has only produced low-enriched uranium, which cannot be used to produce a nuclear weapon. However, a stockpile of low-enriched uranium could be further enriched to weapons-grade – although this is not a trivial task, technically or politically – and therefore an increase in the size of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium does in a sense move Iran closer to having the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

The enrichment of uranium by Iran or other non-nuclear weapons states is not a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it is generally acknowledged that the NPT gives Iran the right to enrich uranium. Indeed, given that Germany, Japan, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands enrich uranium and are non-nuclear weapons state signatories of the NPT, the non-discrimination provision of Article 4 clearly suggests that the right to enrich uranium should extend to Iran as well.

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