Brazil-Turkey 1, sanctions 0

As D-Day approached in Tehran, it was as if the whole world was watching a numbers game. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on his way to Iran, said the chances of convincing the Islamic Republic to accept a nuclear fuel swap deal were close to 99%. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, after meeting with Lula in Moscow last Friday, said the chance was more like 33%. And the United States State Department, via Secretary Hillary Clinton, was all out pre-emptive, betting in fact on 0%.

Lula won the bet. If this was a football match – next month’s World Cup will be followed by billions around the globe – the final result

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would be Brazil-Turkey 1, United States 0, with the golden goal struck in the final minute of extra time.

Welcome to the new axis of deals: Tehran-Brasilia-Ankara. This Monday in Tehran, Brazil, Turkey and Iran, via their foreign ministers, signed a groundbreaking nuclear fuel swap agreement according to which Iran will ship 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium at 3.5% to Turkey in exchange, after a maximum of one year, for 120 kg of 20%-enriched uranium to power the Tehran Research Reactor – everything supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran.

Lula described it as “a victory for diplomacy” – all the sweeter after American and Brazilian conservative media relentlessly trashed him for meddling into this high-stakes chess game. United Nations Security Counci…

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