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Brazil's triumph on Iran shortlived

Lula won uncommon praise at home for brokering a nuclear deal in Tehran. The UN had other ideas.

No one, not even Brazil, has declared that the agreement would resolve the Iranian nuclear standoff. But the Americans and others have noted that the terms are even weaker than the agreement the agency reached with Iran last year. That agreement also called for Iran to give up 1,200 kgs of lightly-enriched uranium, which at the time that represented most of Iran’s supply. The U.S. believes Iran has continued to enrich uranium over the past year.

The most surprising aspect of Clinton’s announcement was that China had signed on to the agreement. China, which relies on Iran for oil imports, had been the most reluctant permanent Security Council member on sanctions. Though Brazil is a non-permanent member of the Security Council and can make executing sanctions difficult, the country had been relying on the Chinese to pressure the other members into continued negotiations.

The euphoria of yesterday, which looked for a while like the diplomatic equivalent of Rio de Janeiro’s winning the 2016 Olympic games last October, is over. But at the very least, it seemed to offer a justification for some for Brazil’s efforts to maintain a dialogue with Iran. Lula has come out looking more like a peacemaker (albeit a lightweight or even naive one, in some views) rather than an unforgivable defender of a repressive regime.

“If in 10 days time we look back and think this was a mistake, fair enough,” said Spektor. “What else could we expect from a country that has no past experience in world politics? But one of the things this event shows is that Brazil is now beginning to speak up and participate in leagues that before were just out of reach.”