RICHARD FALK – REBALANCING THE WORLD

May 17th was the day that the Brazilian/Turkish initiative bore fruit in Tehran, with Iran agreeing to a ten-point arrangement designed to defuse the mounting confrontation with the United States and Israel with regard to its enrichment facilities.

It may turn out that May 17, 2010 will be remembered as an important milestone on the road to a real new world order. Remember that the phrase ‘new world order’ came to prominence in 1990 after Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait. It was used by George W. H. Bush, the elder of the two Bush presidents, to signify the possibility after the end of the Cold War to find a consensus within the UN Security Council enabling a unified response to aggressive war. The new world order turned out to be a mobilizing idea invoked for a particular situation. The United States did not want to create expectations that it would always be available to lead a coalition against would be breakers of world peace. The whole undertaking of a ‘new world order’ disappeared from diplomacy right after the First Gulf War of 1991. What one wonders now is whether the Brazilian/Turkish effort to resolve the Iran nuclear crisis with the West is not expressive of a new world, this time a ‘real new world order.’

May 17th was the day that the Brazilian/Turkish initiative bore fruit in Tehran, with Iran agreeing to a ten-point arrangement designed to defuse the mounting confrontation with the United States and Israel with regard to its enrichment facilities. The essence of the deal was that Iran would ship 1200 kilograms of low enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for deposit, and receive in return 120 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20% for use in an Iranian nuclear reactor devoted to medical research. The agreement reaffirmed support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as acknowledged Iran’s right under the treaty to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which meant the entire fuel cycle, including the enrichment phase.

The bargain negotiated in Tehran closely resembled an arrangement reached some months earlier in which Iran had agreed to turn over a similar amount of low enriched uranium to France and Russia in exchange for their promise of providing fuel rods that could be used in the same medical research reactor. That earlier deal floundered as Iran raised political objections, and then withdrew. The United States had welcomed this earlier arrangement as a desirable confidence-building step toward resolving the underlying conflict, but it wasted no time repudiating the May 17th agreement, which seemed so similar.

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