NYT Op-Ed Says Brazil Acts Contrary to Non-Proliferation Goal By Citing the NPT

Bernard Aronson, former Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, writes in the New York Times:

Brazil started off as a force for nonproliferation. It voluntarily placed its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision in 1991 and later joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But in 2004, Brazil, home to the world’s fifth largest uranium reserves, also proclaimed that all states had an “inalienable right” to enrich uranium for “peaceful purposes.”

Did you get that? Brazil was all for nonproliferation, even joining the NPT, but then it “proclaimed that all states had an ‘inalienable right’ to enrich uranium for ‘peaceful purposes.’” Oh my gosh! What a reversal from a sensible policy for nuclear non-proliferation!

Except that here’s what the NPT says (emphasis added):

Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

I guess Aronson (and the NYT editors) have never actually read the treaty.

He goes on to say that “there is no reason to doubt” that Brazil’s “enrichment program is for peaceful purposes”, but he nevertheless calls on Brazil to “renounce its right to enrich uranium in the name of international peace” (of course, he doesn’t call on the U.S. to do the same). His argument is that this would give Iran a “face-saving” way to follow suit (face-saving in that it could say it was simply following Brazil’s lead and not bowing to U.S. demands).

For this to work, “it is vital that Brazil be perceived as acting on its own rather than yielding to pressure from Washington” (emphasis added),  but “the United States could offer incentives behind closed doors”, such as revisiting “the punitive tariff on Brazil’s sugar-cane-based ethanol”.

Of course, by definition, if Brazil did Washington’s bidding, it would “catapult Brazil into a position of global leadership”. Contrarily, any nation that does not follow orders, like Iran, is by definition a pariah state, and must be demonized. “Iran is trying”, Aronson writes, to develop “a covert program to reprocess spent fuel” in order to develop nuclear weapons. Never mind that the U.S. intelligence community continues to assess that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. Iran is defying orders from Washington and so that is by definition irrelevant.

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