Monday, May 17, 2010

Everything is Never Quite Enough

First off, apologies for the, um, sensual content in the following video. I didn't direct Thomas Crowne Affair, a'ight?

For all the foot-stomping and teeth-gnashing about Iran getting nuclear tech...Iran, it looks like, got nuclear tech. Or, in reality, they give up tons of 3.5% uranium to Turkey, and in return get fuel rods at 20% uranium from Russia. Apparently Brazil is helping too, in some oblique way.

And since this involves Turkey, I get to be all pundit-y. Watch out, Mr. Schleifer!

In seriousness, this is just a big part of Davutoglu's "Zero Problems with Neighbors" policy that's made Turkey come 180 degrees from Inonu isolationism into neo-Ottomanism. Turkey wants to have open trade, rational immigration, and general friendly terms with all of its neighbors. This is easy enough for Bulgaria or Macedonia, but a bit trickier for Iran. Because of the whole NATO thing and the whole Israel gets really grumpy thing.

All the same, the deal looks to be a diplomatic masterstroke of the sort Davutoglu is getting himself a name pulling through. Iran gets to do nuclear! says its for cancer research, which is awfully commendable. Russia gets to sell something that isn't oil or gas or Andrei Arshavin...also a good thing. And Turkey? Turkey gets to look like a real country and take some real leadership. This is the sort of thing that the US used to do, and you can bet lots of Turks will be chest-thumping about how this shows that they've truly made it. And they may have a good point. If there's one security force I'd trust to keep the nuclear waste safe...its probably the Turks. Here's just hoping they don't store it in some place like Yuksekova or another place where they'll get pinned for leaking nuclear waste/other human rights abuses.

So if you ask me, its a brilliant diplomatic coup for Turkey and it helps out Iran and Russia. Al Jazeera is nice enough to note that the US and UK are still grumpy because this doesn't follow the IAEA demands to the letter. Which they don't...apparently if Iran defaults on buying the rods or the deal otherwise falls through, the fuel secured in Turkey...stays secured in Turkey, instead of being destroyed.

But demands are exactly that, demands. Diplomacy is about finding a middle road that works, right? So if the only worries are the trustworthiness of Turkey then I feel pretty alright with this. It should be stated that Turkey stands to lose a LOT of money if they are forced into sanctions against Iran...they have a lot to lose if they screw up. The US and UK have to play their part and give stern warnings...but they'll appreciate it in the end. They are probably just concerned with Turkey acting like a hegemon in West Asia, but I'm sure the good folks have contingency plans there.

Ha'aretz has a pretty good read over its way, as well. Bar'el has one pull quote I like:

Nevertheless, Turkey is the deal's big winner. Trade between Iran and Turkey already stands at $10 billion annually, so if sanctions were imposed on Tehran, Turkey would suffer a massive blow to its economy - and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party would suffer a major political setback. Alternatively, should Turkey decide not to uphold the sanctions, it might find itself in a crisis with the United States and Europe. Hence the tremendous effort Turkey made to achieve the deal, despite American warnings that Iran might be using Turkey in order to buy time.
Yup, Turkey wins out huge, Iran just gets to join the table again. Bar'el also has this to say, though:
The closer ties between Turkey and Syria, Iran's ally; the similar attitude that Turkey and Iran have toward Hamas; their shared interests in Iraq; and a similar view of radical Islamic terrorism all combined with Turkey's disappointment over European views of its candidacy to join the European Union to create a confluence of interests that, for the time being, trumps their disagreements. Moreover, from an ideological standpoint, Iran prefers Turkey to the U.S.: Any concession to Washington or its Security Council partners would be perceived as a surrender.
Turkey and Iran have similar attitudes towards Hamas, sure. But Iran actively supports Hamas with funding. Turkey's support is mostly just Erdogan making loud political statements to rile up his domestic base in election time. Turkey and Iran have awfully diametrically opposed interests in Iraq, except that both want peace and a real country. Turkey's disappointment with Europe has been a big reason for the "Zero Problems" policy, but that's about it. And Iran liking Turkey more then the US? Well...yeah.

Look, if you don't trust Iran and you think they're getting nukes to rain down on Israel...this probably won't change your mind. But if you're not really sure what their plan is and don't want to ostracize a country for the sake of ostracizing them and scoring political points domestically...this is a really good thing. Its good for stability, its good for building reliable partnerships, and its good to have open trade of nuclear stuff instead of A.Q. Khan-style trading. This is a logical, sane, nice deal for everyone. So unless you can prove to me that Iran wants to build a nuclear warhead in a way that'll defeat Occam's Razor...chill, yo.


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