Although its future is shrouded in doubt, the deal announced on Monday by the Turkish and Brazilian presidents that would allow Iran to ship half of its enriched uranium across the border to Turkey will very likely also serve as an important milestone in the development of a new Turkish foreign policy that is increasingly independent, assertive and engaged in regional -- and even global -- affairs.
For Turkey, the deal represents a major achievement in its effort to engage Iran and to promote a diplomatic solution to the ongoing debate over Tehran's nuclear program -- while in the process burnishing its credentials as a regional mediator and diplomatic heavyweight. But the agreement could also end up driving a wedge in Ankara's relations with Washington and some its European allies.
Monday's agreement was signed between Turkey, Brazil and Iran after an 18-hour marathon negotiation session between the Turkish, Brazilian and Iranian foreign ministers, and came only after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to cancel his trip to Tehran unless the Iranians committed to the inking the deal. It calls for Tehran to ship 2,640 pounds (1,200 kilos) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, where it would be held for safekeeping. In return, Iran would receive 264 pounds (120 kilos) of uranium enriched to 20 percent to fuel its medical reactor at a later date.