Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Aramar Experimental Center, Iperó

In the early 1980s Brazil began work on indigenous centrifuge technology. By 1987 it had constructed a pilot facility at IPEN (Institute of Energy and Nuclear Research) located on the campus of Sao Paulo University. This experimental facility first produced slightly enriched uranium in September 1982, and opened a cascade of 9 machines in 1984.

The Aramar Experimental Center, near Iperó in the interior of São Paulo state, was inaugurated in 1988. It was the first only uranium enrichment plant in Brazil. In the development of the nuclear fuel cycle, Brazil opted for the uranium enrichment centrifuge method. The process of research and development has been carried out by the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) and the Brazilian Navy since the early 80's. The Isotopic Enrichment Laboratory - LEI, began to operate in 1987, for testing centrifuges in cascade mode. The laboratory has three small cascades operating independently with a reduced inventory of about 0.2 significant quantity. In 1989 the enrichment laboratories came under the National Safeguards control. The national inspections are carried out by the Safeguards Division of CNEN.

The centrifuge enrichment plant in Brazil (LEI) is a small centrifuge enrichment plant, whose safeguard's approach is complex, essentially due to the verification that the facility is operating as declared. In order to verify the inventory and internal and external flow of material, ABACC is performing one PIV and 5 interim inspection per year. Additionally, ABACC performs 3 unannounced inspection per year.

A further amendment was added that bans IAEA inspections outside the normal schedule. Finally, Brazil was allowed to provide an accounting of the uranium that has already been enriched, but the IAEA and ABACC had no way to verify that amount. The dual nature of nuclear energy allows it to be used for both peaceful and military purposes. The military application of Brazil's nuclear programs, therefore, depends less on technological considerations than on political will.

In 1992 the Coordination of Special Projects (Coordenadoria de Projetos Especiais -COPESP) was carrying out studies regarding the development of a Small Nuclear Center (called Pequenas Centrais Nucleares or PCN) in the Aramar Experimental Center (Centro Experimental de Aramar) which is situated in the city of Ipero in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo.

Brazil's nuclear programs have experienced severe financial constraints since 1990, when Collor de Mello was president. The Aramar Experimental Center dismissed 700 of its 1,600 employees between August 1994 and March 1995.



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