What follows below the fold is White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ statement on Brazil & Turkey’s possible diplomatic achievement with Iran.
Brazil has announced that Iran has agreed to store a considerable amount of its low enriched uranium in Turkey in exchange for a modest amount of more highly enriched uranium for use in the Tehran Research Reactor.
Key points in Gibbs’ statement:
1. The US “acknowledges” efforts by Turkey and Brazil. This means that the US is prepared to applaud their efforts whether success is achieved or not. Privately, there will be some desire inside the White House to punish Brazil and Turkey for their high stakes freelancing if this deal falls apart. But at an official level, the administration is not going to try and embarrass Brazil and Turkey.
2. Until reviewed by the IAEA, the US is going to remain highly skeptical of the Iran deal. This could be interesting “statecraft”. If the US too strongly endorsed Brazil’s efforts or applauded this nuclear materials exchange agreement, the Iranians might not trust the arrangement and could immediately pull back. Skepticism from and resistance by the US may actually be the thing that gets Iran to trust the arrangement.
3. Gibbs notes that Iran states that it is going to continue to enrich uranium up to a 20% level. This is a problem — and creates the angle that the US and allies can continue to attack Iran’s core nuclear program motives.
4. Gibb’s last statement leaves open the door for more constructive engagement and an open door if Iran’s deeds lead to greater trust and confidence in its course. This is mostly boiler plate — but important posturing that the rest of the international community needs to hear more than Iran if the US is going to maintain support for possibly tougher actions against Iran.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2010
Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Iran
We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil. The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns. While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.
The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds – and not simply words – its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA. We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.
— Steve Clemons