Predictably enough, the Iran nuclear deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil a few weeks ago to promote dialogue and head off confrontation between Iran and the United Nations has stirred a lot of international reaction, notably led by the United States.
Almost immediately the Turkey-Brazil deal was brokered, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton rejected it, having garnered support from United Nations Security Council members China and Russia and others for sanctions against Iran. These are to be considered by the Council in June. Turkey and Brazil have on the other hand more strongly reaffirmed it and challenged nuclear armed powers about their own nuclear arsenals.
Where is “nuclear-free” New Zealand on this matter? A Village-Connections Soapbox blog proposed that New Zealand support the Turkish-Brazilian initiative Turkey & New Zealand – From World War One Antagonists to Peacemaking Partners?
The current positions of the players is very succinctly and fairly reported in the Associated Press report as carried in, for instance, The Jerusalem Post ‘Iran critics must get rid of nukes‘
In this report US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton records that the US has “very serious disagreements with Brazil’s diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran.” She elaborated that “we think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous, not less,” and that “one of the US government’s main concerns is that despite the fuel-swap deal, Iran is insisting on continuing to enrich uranium at a high level.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the other hand said that the West was “envious” of Brazil and Turkey’s achievement in getting Iran to agree to the deal which the West had also tried to do but failed.
The Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters in Rio that “The agreement contains all that which was proposed by the Group of Vienna, especially by Russia, the United States and France, and now we need time to see if it will bear results.”
Both Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva say they do not see the nuclear fuel-swap deal they brokered as a solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff, but as a starting point to get Iran back to the negotiations.
Mr Erdogan has challenged nations criticizing the Iranian deal (see Iran agrees to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey ) “to eliminate their own nuclear weapon stockpiles”. Turkey and Brazil are taking a lead in supporting nuclear disarmament.
A strong public and political consensus for a nuclear-free New Zealand emerged from the 1980s when, following nation-wide local campaigns, a labour government was elected and nuclear-free legislation was passed. This led the United States to suspend New Zealand’s membership of the nuclear alliance between it and Australia (Anzus). New Zealand was left all the more free to pursue a constructive, independent peacemaking foreign policy. That included nuclear-free peace-brokering between the United States and North Korea over its nuclear development programme under the previous labour government.
The current, national government is retaining the nuclear-free policy, while also moving closer militarily and otherwise towards the United States. This includes building up military connections such as by sending a commando unit to Afghanistan while announcing intentions to withdraw its very highly-regarded peacekeeping contingent.
People and governments around the world need to see the tracks down which present moves can take them. The track of United States’-driven sanctions has led in the case of Iraq to the terrible strife and wrecking of the country that has taken place since the 1990s, and everything must be done to prevent this sort of thing happening to yet another country. Already an arc of disorder and strife stretches from Pakistan across to Somalia. To date, Iran has not been directly caught up in this and everything that can be done must be done to help prevent this happening.
Both the United States and Iran are playing with fire, and any countries that can engage in dialogue with both of them and help them to engage peacefully with each other, to cool emotions and come nearer to peaceful, nuclear-free solutions, should not get caught up with either side. They need to look instead at how they can play constructive roles.
The question which needs to be raised is which way will “nuclear-free New Zealand’s” present decision-makers move? Will they be guided by genuinely independent, peacemaking and nuclear-free principles? Or, rather, by those of an ally of a (nuclear) superpower that often, sadly, seems to have a penchant to use, and to involve an increasing number of other countries in using, military means to solve their problems? New Zealand villagers clearly mandated their politicians to move in the former direction in the 1980s, and I am sure that that’s what the villagers of the world, who applauded that development then, would also want to happen now.
Your comments welcome