Giving Diplomacy a Chance
By AHMET DAVUTOGLU and CELSO AMORIM
The international community, including Turkey and Brazil, is in staunch opposition to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We are also dedicated to achieving a world without nuclear weapons. In the case of the Iranian nuclear program, we firmly believe that a process of result-oriented negotiation is needed to avoid a slide toward conflict.
Lack of trust and confidence has been hindering positive movement on this issue, which is critical for regional security and prosperity. We are emboldened, however, by what has been achieved in Tehran only days ago.
Since October 2009, the focus has been on a deal to provide fuel to the Tehran Research Reactor in exchange for the removal of 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium from Iran’s stocks. As proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, this deal would be a confidence-building measure as well as a humanitarian requirement in view of the research reactor’s role in the diagnosis and treatment of almost a million patients in Iran.
The deal fell apart at the end of last year amid mutual suspicion. In consultation with the United States and other allies, Turkey and Brazil intervened to broker a new accord. The joint declaration that was signed by Turkey, Brazil and Iran in Tehran on May 17 reflected a major breakthrough.
Accordingly, Iran agreed to remove from its territory 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium — the exact amount specified by the I.A.E.A. proposal — within one month once the appropriate arrangements are concluded. The low-enriched uranium would be deposited in Turkey in one batch. The deposit will be made at the beginning of the process before any amount of nuclear fuel is delivered to Iran. The Tehran declaration also states that the nuclear fuel exchange will create a positive and constructive atmosphere, thus presenting an opportunity for a forward-looking process. Thus, it reopens the prospect of broader negotiations with Iran in any place, including Turkey and Brazil.
This joint declaration is not only the result of our dedicated work but also the culmination of the engagement strategy put in place by President Obama and followed by the other P5+1 countries — Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — as part of a vision of enhanced and effective multilateral cooperation. Definitive action must now be taken to make sure that there is a sustained and working engagement track. There is only one viable solution to disagreements with Iran over its nuclear program, and that is a negotiated diplomatic solution.
Some critics of the Tehran declaration refer to the fact that it does not treat all problems surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. This was never the purpose of the original agreement. But we believe that the declaration helps to address the entire issue by providing essential confidence-building, the key missing component thus far. It creates the long-sought opportunity to address the issues through dialogue and engagement. The Tehran declaration needs to be given the opportunity to work. Threats and rhetorical statements need to be avoided. As was clear during the negotiations of the declaration, fulfillment of all pledges and commitments is essential for the continued engagement of all parties involved, including Brazil and Turkey.
In the presence of deep mutual mistrust there will always be those who display skepticism about the feasibility of any negotiated outcome. But there is now sufficient substance to give negotiations a chance. Missing it may well be regretted for generations to come.Ahmet Davutoglu and Celso Amorim are foreign ministers, respectively, of Turkey and Brazil.