Commentary | June 02, 2010

Needed: North-South Cooperation on Iran

W. Pal Sidhu suggests that the nuclear agreement between Brazil, Iran and Turkey marks the emergence of new powers, but the established powers still have a significant role to play.

Writing for his fortnightly column on livemint.com, Sidhu describes two views on the recent nuclear deal. One, popular in the global South sees a new, more assertive role for successful developing countries, and the other, popular among the developed world, that sees the deal as naïve and unrealistic. The reality, he suggests, is somewhere in between.

"While it is true that both Brazil and Turkey have been more assertive in the international arena on issues well beyond their borders … they have also been cautious in their approach and have sought to work closely with the P5," he writes." The Tehran agreement is not a radical new proposal and resembles the earlier agreement that Iran has discussed with the Vienna group since October 2009."

Sidhu argues that the limited scope of the agreement highlights this deference to the five permanent members of the Security Council. "Had there been an anti-Western sentiment, the contours of the Tehran deal would have looked very different," he suggests. "Brazil might have offered to supply the enriched uranium directly, instead of reiterating that it be supplied by the Vienna group (as was envisaged in the original agreement discussed between Iran and the Vienna group)."

But despite Brazil and Turkey's efforts to accommodate the P5, the P5 has responded with its own draft resolution in the UN Security Council with a new round of sanctions against Iran. Sidhu considers this response disappointing, calling it short-sighted and indicative of "an anti-South attitude." Further, he suggests that the new resolution is unlikely to be effective. Competing demands from the U.S., China and Russia have watered it down, and, because Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon are unlikely to support the resolution, it will not be unanimous. "In this light, a resolution passed by the majority will lack credibility," Sidhu suggests. "The failure to effectively impose these sanctions will only further signal the growing weakness of the P-5 in UNSC."

Sidhu concludes with a call for a united effort. "What is abundantly clear is that to effectively address the crucial issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there will have to be a combined effort of the West and key non-Western powers," he writes. "Neither one can be successful on its own."

Click here to read Sidhu's article on livemint.com