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Is Brazil’s Lula Taking the Right Approach With Iran?

Op-ed commentary on the subject Is Brazil’s Lula Taking the Right Approach With Iran? for the Washington Latin America Advisor, Inter-American Dialogue Newsletter, August 11, 2009, p.3.

Brazil has become an alternative pole of power in the Western Hemisphere, with a steadily increasing regional and global profile. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was one of a handful of international leaders, and the first Latin American, to meet President Obama in the White House.

Brazil is present and active in the G-20 group, in the enlarged G-8 meetings, the BRIC group and is considered a strategic partner by the European Union. Brazil’s relations with Iran have economic and strategic dimensions. Beyond regular trade links, Iran granted Brazil’s Petrobras rights to explore vast offshore oil reserves in the Persian Gulf and in the Caspian Sea. The Brazilian president invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Brasilia in May to discuss their economic cooperation, but Ahmadinejad canceled at the last minute.

Shortly after Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory in the Iranian elections, and after President Lula affirmed that he was convinced election fraud didn’t occur, Iran announced that Brazil will be the Ahmadinejad’s first foreign destination after his swearing in.

In my opinion, the new strategy of President Obama to open a dialogue with Tehran and Iran’s growing hegemonic status in the Gulf have influenced Brazil’s decision to strengthen ties with Iran. However, Brazil does not take into consideration that its strategy strengthens the Tehran regime and diminishes the possibility of UN-backed international diplomatic and economic pressure to convince it to renounce its nuclear project.

Thus, it enhances the threat of Iran’s nuclear hegemonic projection vis-a-vis the moderate Arab states, threatens the stability of the Middle East, the stability of oil prices and provokes nuclear proliferation among other states in the region. Moreover, the support to the Iranian regime after the implacable repression against the opposition and the intellectual and professional elite will strengthen the regime’s grip on the country.

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