RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Brazil and Turkey lashed out at the United States Friday in a deepening confrontation over Iran, saying it and other nuclear powers lacked credibility in demanding Tehran hobble its atomic program.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted a nuclear fuel swap deal they struck last week with Iran should be weighed instead of a US push for sanctions against the Islamic republic.
Lula was robust in response to comments Thursday from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Brazilian-Turkish deal’s effect of “buying time for Iran… makes the world more dangerous, not less.”
“The existence of weapons of mass destruction is what makes the world more dangerous,” Lula shot back at the opening of a UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in Rio aimed at improving cross-cultural understanding.
Erdogan, also attending, said: “When we hear people talking about stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons — who are they to talk against the idea of having nuclear weapons!”
He added that “those who talk like that should eliminate nuclear weapons from their own countries…. That’s the only way to be convincing.”
The sharp exchanges revealed what Clinton has termed “very serious disagreements with Brazil’s diplomacy vis-a-vis Iran.” She also said she believed Iran was “using” Brazil.
The undiplomatic confrontation will have repercussions in the UN Security Council, where the United States sits as a permanent member alongside temporary members Brazil and Turkey.