Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during a press conference in Berlin, this Thursday, December 3, suggested that the US and Russia should first get rid of their nuclear arsenals before trying to prevent Iran from building its own atomic bomb.
Lula also argued that the international community should have patience with Iran and keep negotiating with that country on nuclear matters.
The Brazilian leader made his comments alongside German chancellor, Angela Merkel, soon after she talked about losing patience with Teheran due to the lack of objective results in the negotiations with the country, which have been dragging for four years.
"The best and the cheapest for all of us is to believe in negotiations and have lots of patience," said Lula. "I think that to deal with Iran as if it were an insignificant country, increasing every day the pressure over Iran, might not result in a good thing. As Iran is a country with very strong culture, 80 million inhabitants and very serious domestic problems, we need to increase the patience level in order to increase the conversation level with Iran."
Lula then recalled that in a span of a few days he "had the luck" of meeting the presidents of Israel, the Palestinian authority and Iran: "I talked a lot with every one of them and I think there's always a chance for us to find a way for people to agree that peace is much cheaper and much more effective than war."
The Brazilian leader talked about the need to create a climate of trust among world leaders. "I've already talked about this with my dear friend Angela Merkel today, I talked to president Obama in Pittsburgh, I talked to Sarkozy, I talked to Gordon Brown. It is necessary to establish a new kind of conversation to see if we reduce the widespread mistrust level that exists today. We need to create a condition of trust so that we can dream about the negotiation."
Lula went on: "My position is very clear. My country has something in the constitution – it's not a government's decision, it'sÂ something approved by the 1988 Brazilian Constitution in 1988 – that forbids the use of nuclear weapons. And we in Brazil have uranium enrichment to produce electric power. And that's what we want for Iran. It is the same that Brazil has. The same that Brazil accepted for itself we accept for Iran and I think that only by talking we can reach an agreement to deal with the Middle East."
The president stressed once again the need for dialogue and understanding: "I don't know if I am naí¯ve, I don't know if I am too optimistic, but I believe a lot, a lot, in peoples' capacity to convince and dialogue. And we are trying to offer our contribution and I hope the best will happen.
"So that we don't have nuclear weapons in Iran and that there aren't nuclear weapons in any country in the world. That the United States disables its weapons, that Russia disables theirs. Because the moral authority to ask others to not have them we get by not having them ourselves.
"This is important and I'm from a country, which has inscribed in the Constitution the non proliferation of nuclear weapons. Therefore I am very comfortable when I say that. Now, it is important that those who have them start to dismantle their arsenals so that we have more arguments to convince others."
In a joint communiqué Lula and Merkel, expressed their hope that Iran would answer positively to the international community's offer and they also asked Teheran to cooperate entirely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (IAEA) and to comply with UN's resolutions.
The German chancellor made a point to express her frustration over the lack of progress in the negotiations and announced that she is in favor of using new sanctions against Iran. She charged the country with violating international agreements for four years.
The crisis started in 2002 when it was discovered that Iran had kept a secret nuclear program for 18 years. Three months ago, the IAEA obtained proof that Teheran was secretly building another nuclear plant with evidence that it wasn't being built for peaceful purposes. Despite Brazil's opposition these new findings led the Atomic Agency to pass a resolution demanding the program suspension.
Lula's German trip seems also to have boosted the Brazilian president's international popularity. Fascinated more than other publications by the Brazilian leader charisma, the German daily Süddeutsche ZeitungÂ wrote on its front page the headline:Â "The Brazilian president in Germany: Lula superstar". Lula is presented as a star who leads the "Latin American giant," and he is celebrated "as if the rest of the planet had just discovered Brazil."
This Friday Lula and his entourage will be rushed from Berlin to Hamburg aboard a bullet train, courtesy of the German government. This is the same train they are trying to sell Brazil to link its two largest cities: São Paulo and Rio.
But not everybody seems happy with Lula's stardom. The Wall Street Journal published an article this December 2 talking about Lula's behavior and the discomfort he's bringing Washington and American president Barack Obama, who once called Obama "my man."
Says the paper: "Brazil's emergence as the hemispheric powerhouse is turning into a challenge and – in foreign-policy terms – a disappointment for President Barack Obama, who, like George W. Bush, developed a close relationship with charismatic President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
"The world was hoping that it would become a responsible global player and stakeholder, but instead Brazil is behaving like an immature developing country with a chip on its shoulder," says Moisés Naím, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine.
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