US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s one-day visit to Brazil was dominated by one issue: the Iranian nuclear program. In the three meetings she had with Brazilian authorities the subject was discussed.
At the Congress, with the leaders of the two houses, Michel Temer (PMDB, São Paulo) president of the Chamber of Deputies, and José Sarney (PMDB, Amapá), president of the Senate; at Itamaraty with Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim; and with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Speaking to the media before an Amorim-Hillary press conference, Lula adopted a flexible position with regard to the issue. “I just don’t think it is prudent to push Iran up against the wall. What I want for Iran is what I want for Brazil: the use and development of nuclear energy for peaceful ends. If Iran is in agreement with that, it can count on Brazilian support. If it wants to go beyond that, Iran will be doing something that is expressly prohibited in the Brazilian constitution. And that is something we cannot agree with,” declared Lula. The Brazilian constitution prohibits the development of nuclear arms.
At the joint press conference, standing next to Secretary Hillary, Celso Amorim declared that Brazil will not bow to pressure from the Unites States on the matter of the Iranian nuclear program. “We intend to think this out for ourselves. What we want is a world without nuclear weapons, certainly without proliferation of these arms. But we are not about to be pushed along by others. We will use our own heads and come to our own conclusions,” said the minister.
He then added that it is the position of the Brazilian government that there is a possibility of a negotiated agreement with the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “The question is what is the best way to get to that goal. Are all the chances to negotiate exhausted? We believe there is still an opportunity to reach an agreement, maybe with a little more flexibility on the part of all those concerned,” concluded Amorim.
In her comments at the press conference, standing next to Amorim, Hillary declared the Ahmadinejad government has lied about the production of nuclear weapons. She stated that Iran tells a different story about what it is doing in each different place it goes, for example, in Brazil and at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“What we have seen is that Iran goes to Brazil, China and Turkey and in each place tells a different story in order to escape sanctions. This matter continues to be examined by the United States,” said the Secretary. “President Obama has made gestures to Iran for more than a year and there has been no reciprocal signal.”
Hillary declared that the US was willing to negotiate with Iran but that the possibilities were limited because of a lack of interest on the part of Iran.
“An effort in favor of negotiations, in good faith, by Iran will be eagerly accepted. We desire a positive diplomatic outcome and with that goal in mind will continue to discuss this issue with Brazil.”
She said that it seemed that Iran would only negotiate in good faith when pressured by sanctions to do so, without going into detail as to exactly what the sanctions would be.
“I repeat that the US prefers negotiations to sanctions. Our door is always open. But when the international community as a whole gets behind a resolution for sanctions, we believe that only then will they negotiate.”
In her visit to the Brazilian Congress and meetings with the presidents of the two legislative houses, Clinton said the United States would like help from Brazil in dealing with the nuclear proliferation, the Iranian nuclear program and the new situation in Honduras.
As for Iran, Hillary pointed out to Temer and Sarney that Russia, China, England, France and Germany are all in favor of new sanctions because they are all convinced that the recent decision by Tehran to enrich uranium to 20% is part of a plan to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies this.
Hillary warned that Iran wants nuclear weapons not only to attack Israel, but to exert political pressure over the whole Middle East and especially the Arab nations. Hillary called on Brazil to join the effort to halt the proliferation of nuclear arms, according to José Sarney.
Hillary also spoke to the leaders of the Congress about Latin America and the need to overcome the conflict in Honduras by bringing an end to its domestic problems, an effort Brazil can and hopefully will be a part of, she told Temer and Sarney.