Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States has serious disagreements with Brazil over its efforts to mediate with Iran over its nuclear program. But Clinton stressed the United States desire for good relations with the emerging South American power.
U.S. officials have privately expressed irritation that Iran has used Brazilian mediation efforts to try to defuse pressure for new international nuclear sanctions.
But Clinton's comments Thursday at Washington's Brookings Institution were the most extensive by a senior Obama administration official in public on the issue.
Clinton, who outlined a new U.S. national security policy at the Washington research organization, said the United States wants enduring good relations with Brazil, which she said is a responsible and effective partner with Washington on many issues.
But she said Iran used Brazilian diplomacy spearheaded by President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva to try to stave off new U.N. Security Council sanctions.
"I don't know that we agree with any nation on every issue," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "And certainly we have very serious disagreements with Brazil's diplomacy vis-à-vis Iran. And we have told President Lula, and I've told my counterpart the foreign minister [Celso Amorim] that we think buying time for Iran, enabling Iran to avoid international unity with respect to their nuclear program, makes the world more dangerous, not less.''
Earlier this month, Iran told visiting Brazilian and Turkish leaders that it was ready to accept a big-power proposal made last year to export more than one thousand kilograms of enriched uranium, and obtain fuel for a Tehran research reactor in return.
But the fact that Iran more than doubled its uranium stockpile since the proposal was made in October lessened the significance of its export pledge.
It also refused to accept a key element of the original proposal, that it suspend an enrichment program seen by the United States and key allies as weapons related.
Despite the Iranian gesture, the permanent U.N. Security Council member countries announced a day later they had agreed on a new draft sanctions resolution against Iran.
Clinton said she believed President Lula and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim were acting in good faith but that the Iranians were not.
"They [Brazilians] have a theory of the case, they're not just acting out of impulse," she said. "We disagree with it. So we go at it. We say well, we don't agree with that, we think that, that the Iranians are using you. And that we think it's time to go to the Security Council, and that it is only after the Security Council acts that the Iranians will engage effectively on their nuclear program."
Clinton said the disagreement over Iran does not in any way undermine the U.S. commitment to seeing Brazil as a friend and partner in the Hemisphere and beyond.
She praised Brazil for among other things, its lead role in the U.N. peacekeeping effort in Haiti and earthquake relief and recovery efforts there.