Brazil’s President Ignacio Lula da Silva will visit Tehran on May 15. International attention will focus on the visit because Iran has said it agrees “in principle” with working through Brazil and Turkey to broker a nuclear fuels exchange deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Despite this diplomatic camouflage, Iran’s central objective remains avoiding or watering  down possible UN sanctions and sowing confusion among international players with a diplomacy of gestures and bluffs.  It aims to buy more time at the expense of the U.S. and the West to develop a nuclear weapon.

Many in Washington are reassessing their opinion of Brazil’s popular president and his commitment to responsible global leadership.

While Lula enjoys the “international spotlight” and may have his sights set on the Nobel Peace prize, his working agenda aims to marginalize U.S. global leadership and open the door for further delays in confronting the threat posed by a nuclear-arming Iran.

Having already denounced sanctions, Lula will likely be suckered into a Potemkin-like process that will drag on indefinitely and slow consensus on necessary sanctions.

Finally, Lula’s embrace of Iran’s theocratic dictators is a hard slap in the face of Brazilian diverse and vibrant democracy and an affront to those who believe in the protection of human rights.

As former State Department official Bernard Aronson sagely notes, Lula could do some good by setting an example.  Brazil could offer to “renounce permanently its [Brazil’s] right to enrich uranium, closing its enrichment facility, and … let the IAEA supply NPT signatories .. with the low enriched uranium they need for peaceful purposes…” Lula will not do this.

What asks  Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post is “the price for [Lula’s] vanity diplomacy?”  It is, he concludes, “continued delay of sanctions that could be the last chance of stopping Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon peacefully.”

The Lula visit and his nuclear “mediation” are harmful to U.S. interest and global security.  The Obama Administration should let this be known in no uncertain terms.