Tehran: Brazil`s President met with Iranian leaders on Sunday to try to broker a compromise in the international standoff over Tehran`s nuclear program, even as the US says new sanctions are the only way to force Iran`s cooperation.
Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is trying to use Brazil`s friendly relations with Iran to show it can be a fair, neutral broker in the escalating dispute. Since evidence of a clandestine Iranian nuclear program first emerged in 2003, negotiations with world powers and visits by UN inspectors have failed to persuade the US and its allies that Iran is not pursuing a weapons capability.
"It`s more difficult for someone who has nuclear weapons to ask someone not to develop nuclear weapons," Silva said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on Saturday. "It`s easier for someone who does not carry nuclear weapons, like myself, to ask for that."
The Brazilian President is reportedly trying to revive a UN-backed proposal in which Iran would ship its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad to be processed further and returned as fuel rods for a medical research reactor.
Silva began his visit by meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the afternoon, he was to meet Iran`s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran maintains its nuclear work is only for peaceful purposes, like energy production. But the UN nuclear monitoring agency says Iran has not fully cooperated with its investigation to determine whether it has a military dimension.
The UN plan, first proposed in October, would deprive Iran of stocks of enriched uranium that it could process to the higher levels of enrichment needed in weapons production. The material returned to Iran in the form of fuel rods could not be processed beyond its lower, safer levels, which are suitable for use in the Tehran research reactor.
Iran initially accepted the deal but then balked and proposed changes rejected by the world powers negotiating with Tehran: Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Iran will continue to defy demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful unless it is hit with a new round of UN sanctions.