In the photo below, President Mahoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is seen flashing a sign (victory, peace, viva Viagra…whatever) while accompanied by the leaders of Brazil (left) and Turkey (at right). The photo was made by Atta Kenare for Agence France-Presse and Getty Images at the announcement of an agreement on Monday that the three countries had arrived at a deal to send about half of Iran’s nuclear stockpile to Turkey.
As reported in the New York Times, the deal would see Iran send about 2,640 pounds of low-enriched uranium—stuff that might be used in a bomb--to Turkey, where it would be stored. In return, Iran could receive 265 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent by other countries that could be used in a reactor to make isotopes for treating Iranian cancer patients.
As the Times pointed out, the deal seemed to be brokered in an effort to slow down the drive by the United States for international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. On Tuesday, in fact, the Obama administration announced that the US had reached an agreement with Russia and China to impose a new set of sanctions on Iran. Action will now move to the United Nations Security Council, where Iran will try to block the sanctions.
Today’s story in the Times came with the photo below, by Abedin Taherkenareh for the European Pressphoto Agency. It shows Ahmadinejad in what I take to be an awkward embrace with the leaders of Brazil and Turkey. But diplomatic embraces are often not what they seem, and the underlying message of this picture is vague. Are the Brazilian and Turkish leaders protecting Ahmadinejad from UN sancations, or imprisoning him in a web of proposals that would keep Iran from developing nuclear bombs?
It’s clear now that the world’s great powers aren’t buying the idea that the Iran’s recent deal would effectively stop it from developing nuclear weapons. US secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Tuesday’s announcement of the agreement with Russian and China “is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide.”