Ball now in wary West’s court

TEHRAN – Iran’s leaders may be forgiven for appearing overjoyed for inking a nuclear fuel swap agreement with Brazil and Turkey that is bound to bolster Tehran’s regional and trans-regional standing. The move will also weaken the momentum for sanctions against Iran, especially given that the accord is based on a proposal United States President Barack Obama supported last October.

The 10-point deal, signed by the foreign ministers of the three countries at the Group of 15 (G-15) summit in Iran on May 17, represents a major foreign policy coup for the Islamic Republic and is likely to thwart US-led efforts to gain United Nations Security Council approval for a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran. If Tehran sticks to its commitments under the accord, Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the council, are almost certain to vote against a sanctions resolution.

“There are those in Washington (but also in Paris and London) who were fully committed to passing a strong sanctions resolution in the United Nations Security Council next month, and this is a blow to them and all the intense diplomatic work they have done in the past five or six months,” Gary Sick, a Columbia University specialist, wrote in his blog.

Under the deal, brokered by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran will ship 1,200 kilograms from its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey by the end of June in exchan…

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