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Brazil’s president defends Iran’s nuclear program

September 24th, 2009
President Lula and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Lula and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Brazil’s president said Wednesday that Iran is entitled to the same rights as any other country to use nuclear energy for peaceful ends.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assured him in meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly that his country’s nuclear program was intended solely for peaceful purposes and that he had no reason to doubt him.

“As I think Brazil has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful ends, that’s the same thing I defend for Iran, that they can have the same rights as Brazil and as other countries,” Silva said a press conference. “I defend for Iran the same thing I defend for Brazil with respect to nuclear energy.”

Brazil’s 1988 Constitution requires its nuclear program must be used exclusively for peaceful means, but the country was engaged in a stand off with the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2004 after denying inspectors access to the centrifuges used to enrich uranium before a deal was eventually reached.

Silva said that if Iran violated international norms against nuclear proliferation it would have to face sanctions just as any other country would.

Calling Iran a “great partner,” Silva defended Brazil’s relationship with the country despite growing international criticism over its nuclear program and allegations of fraud in the recent re-election of Ahmadinejad.

Silva said Ahmadinejad would visit Brazil in November and that he expected to visit Iran sometime at the beginning of next year.

Asked about Ahmadinejad’s denial that the Holocaust had taken place, Silva said: “On the question of the Holocaust, if he thinks differently that’s his problem, it’s not mine. It doesn’t hurt the relations with the Brazilian state.”

A number of Jewish organizations and gay rights groups protested in Rio and Sao Paulo when Ahmadinejad was expected to visit Brazil earlier this year. More recently, vocal critics have attacked Brazil’s stance recognizing the legitimacy of Iran’s election.

Silva said it was not his place to question Iran’s electoral process and defended Brazil’s right to forge its own foreign policy.

“I’m not obliged not to like someone because someone else doesn’t like them. In other words Brazil has it’s autonomy and sovereignty to create its own foreign policy and we have certainly we’ll be talking to a great partner.

Silva said Brazil was also sending a business delegation to look into the possibility of investment in Iran.

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