Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to attend a three-day regional summit starting Monday in Istanbul, to be chaired by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, according to the Fars news agency. Among those attending the third summit on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) will be heads of state from Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Macedonia, Kazakhistan and Azerbaijan.
In addition, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, high-level United States officials, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbayeva are expected to show up, along with the prime ministers of Jordan, Oman, China and Cambodia..
Turkey has been offered the organization's next presidential term by Kazakhstan, the permanent CICA head. Iran is a permanent member of the group, which also includes the Palestinian Authority as a separate country called “Palestine.” The 20-member body may soon welcome Vietnam as a new member as well.
On the agenda will be a discussion on the issue of nuclear weapons in the region.
Last week at a U.S. State Department news briefing, spokesman Phillip J. Crowley told reporters that Iran continued to refuse to comply fully with international restrictions on its nuclear development and has not stopped enriching uranium at 20 percent in its headlong rush towards the probable development of a nuclear weapon.
After the failure of more than a year of diplomatic dancing with Tehran, Washington has now joined Israel in asking for harsher economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic in the hope they might prove more persuasive.
But while the United States has not yet put the finishing touches on its resolution for sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, Brazil, Turkey and Venezuela have grown closer to Iran. Venezuela, in particular, possesses the largest source of oil outside the Middle East, and Turkey presents its own set of security risks, inasmuch as it shared many military secrets with Israel as an ally.
Back in October, a proposal for Iran to export its low-enriched uranium to Russia for safe upgrade to non-military standard was refused by Tehran. Instead, the Islamic Republic made a deal with Turkey and Brazil to export 1,200 kilograms of uranium per month for enrichment outside the country – but has yet to follow through. Crowley noted that Iran meanwhile continues to enrich its uranium to military grade at home.
“While the TRR – the joint declaration in Tehran may technically fulfill what had been the proposal back on October, we don't think that it fundamentally addresses the larger concerns about Iran's noncompliance with its international obligations,” Crowley said. “Turkey understands that. Brazil understands that. And when this is put to a vote, Turkey, Brazil, other countries will have to judge how to proceed.”