Iran’s ambassador in Brazil, Mohsen Shaterzadeh, refutes the idea that the relationship between Brazil and Iran is based only on the friendship between presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The ambassador declared that no matter who succeeds Lula the tendency is for Brazil-Iran ties to increase.
In Shaterzadeh’s opinion Brazil and Iran have complementary economies and for that reason there is no reason not get closer. “Our view is that the relationship is not based only on friendship. It goes far beyond that,” said the diplomat.
“Of course, the charismatic personality of president Lula helps a lot. But certainly the new government will not reject Iran.” Brazil has presidential elections in October.
The ambassador went on to say that the distinct characteristics of the economies in Brazil and Iran opened the door to trade opportunities, even with United Nations Security Council sanctions in effect. “It is not just that Brazil is important to Iran. Iran is also important to Brazil,” he declared.
Shaterzadeh affirmed that “Together our two countries can reach agreements in various areas, such as technology and energy. In our view, the existing partnership tends to expand no matter who wins the election in Brazil.”
According to the Iranian Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Brazilian imports of Iranian goods increased 28.2% in 2009, going from US$ 15 million to US$ 19 million. Iran exports 0.01% of Brazilian imports.
At the moment, total bilateral Brazil-Iran trade is over US$ 1.2 billion annually. Brazil sells beef and whole chicken, along with corn, soy, sorghum, sugar and soy oil to Iran.
Ambassador Shaterzadeh points out that in the first half of this year bilateral trade has expanded 58%, and quickly adds “in spite of the restrictions on Iran.”
In 2009, Iran had a spike in inflation, when it rose to 18%. There are also problems with unemployment as many workers can only find jobs in the huge informal market.
The Iranian government has a large subsidy program for food and fuel, which results in the average Iranian having the impression that living standards are high, according to specialists.
Brazil as Mediator
In two weeks the Vienna Group – which consists of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States, France and Russia – is scheduled to begin new negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program.
Shaterzadeh, announced that the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like Brazil to act as a mediator in the efforts to resolve the impasse. The ambassador declared that Iran will insist that a uranium swap deal – such a deal was signed in Tehran in May – must be the basis for any agreement.
Shaterzadeh said that the role of president Lula reinforced the relevance of developing nations on the international stage. “The presence of Brazil raised hopes in the developing world that there was support for them,” said the ambassador.
However, he did not mention suspicions in the international community that Iran is secretly working on the production of atomic weapons. Iran denies this.
The ambassador went on to say that renewed negotiations with the Vienna Group must be based on the Declaration of Tehran, the official name of the document signed by Ahmadinejad, Erdogan (the Turkish president) and Lula on May 17, proposing a uranium swap.
The proposal was immediately rebuffed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council who voted unanimously for more sanctions against Iran three weeks later.
Shaterzadeh declared that the Declaration of Tehran is an important document in world history. And added that the declaration ended the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program. He said that by adjusting a few details in the document the whole problem can be resolved easily.