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Brazil, Iran, and the Road to the Security Council

SAO PAULO – The attempt by Brazil’s government to participate in the international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program could well be called “A Manual for Candidates to a Permanent Membership of the United Nations Security Council.”

Brazil’s diplomatic efforts with Iran – a country suspected of developing nuclear energy for military purposes – began at a meeting last year between President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during the G8+5 summit in L’Aquila, Italy.

According to Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press spokesman, and Brazilian authorities, Obama said he had no objections whatsoever to Lula talking to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Obama suggested using the weight of commercial relations between the two countries to tell the Iranian leader that he should follow Brazil’s example (in Brazil, the ban on nuclear energy for military purposes is enshrined in the Constitution).

Lula and Ahmadinejad met in June 2009, when Obama was still holding out a hand to the ayatollahs. Lula acted according to Obama’s suggestion when he received Ahmadinejad in Brasilia. He acknowledged – as everyone does – “Iran’s right to pursue a nuclear program with peaceful intentions,” but immediately asked for “respect for the international agreements” and underlined the fact that “this is the road Brazil is following.”