President Obama will travel to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in the next week.
Hopeully his trip to Brazil will be better prepared than his trip to China last fall, which produced few tangible results and may have ended up exarcerbating relationships between the two countries.
Assuming he and his delegation are seriously prepared, Obama should seek to achieve the following objectives:
1. First, he should engage in hard-nosed discussions with Brazil in order to achieve a commitment from Brazil that it will not repeat its free-lancing on the issue of nuclear-proliferation in Iran. Last year Brazil negotiated a three-way deal with Turkey and Iran for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel from Iran, at a precise moment in which their negotiations undercut the negotiations then underway with the Group of 5 + 1.
2. Second, Obama should secure a commitment that any nuclear cooperation agreement betwen Brazil and Iran must be public, transparent, and safeguard the non-proliferation concerns and interests of the IAEA and the international community.
3. Third, Obama should secure a public reaffirmation that Brazil will comply with its 1988 Constitution and the principal international non-proliferation treaties, to which it is a party, and never seek a nuclear weapons capability. Such a reassurance is particularly iimportant in view of some of the statements made by high officials of the previous Lula government, and the fact that Brazil is moving quickly to implement and expand an autonomous nuclear enrichment capability.
4. Obama should seek a commitment from Brazil that it will not seek an expanded Securty Council seat which carries with it the power of the veto, which the current Permanent Members of the Security Council now have.
5. Finally, if and only if Brazil agrees not to seek a Secuirty Council seat which has the power of the veto, Obama should express U.S. support for Brazil to have a permanent seat on an expanded Security Council.
Actually, offering support for Security Council permanent seats on presidential trips abroad is a very poor way to approach the issue of Security Council reform, which if ever achieved will require the approval of its current peranent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Nonetheless, having made the mistake of offfering India support for a permanent seat on the Security Council during his trip to that country, Obama can at least correct part of his error by specifying that his support is for a Secuirty Council seat without a veto.
Given Brazil’s importance in Latin America, the countries of the developing world, and the world as a whole, offering such qualified support would definitely be appropriate.
Brazil is also a fascinating country and democracy, in which signficant reduction in poverty was achieved during Lula’s time in office. Obama’s visit offers an extraordinary opportunity for him to expand his consciousness of the world, and the importance of countries that are significant not because they are failing, but precisely because they are succeeding in the new economy of the 21st century.
The Trenchant Observer
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