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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Brazil - Nuclear Re-Armament?

During his winning campaign in January 2003, leftist Workers' Party presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty as unfair. "If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do?" da Silva asked in a speech. He later said Brazil has no intention to develop nuclear arms.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) signed a bilateral agreement on June 20, 2003. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, signed the agreement for DOE and Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology Roberto Amaral signed for MST. This agreement provided for DOE and MST to jointly conduct research and development (R&D) collaboration in the field of nuclear technology. The areas of collaboration under this Agreement include advanced reactor developments for future-generation nuclear energy systems; advanced reactor fuel and reactor fuel cycle-integration; life management and upgrading of current operating reactors; advanced fuel and material irradiation and use of experimental facilities; environmental and safety issues related to new reactor and fuel cycle technologies; and fundamental areas of nuclear engineering and science.

In April 2004 the Brazilian government and International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear inspectors were at odds over inspections of an under- construction, uranium- enrichment facility near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil refused to allow IAEA inspectors to see the facility's equipment in order to protect proprietary information. They insisted that the facility will only produce low-enriched uranium, which is legal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, so long as it is safeguarded. They also refused to fully cooperate with the IAEA's investigation into the nuclear black market operated by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Kahn.

In June 2004 Brazil's Ambassador reiterated his country's intent to limit the access of the International Atomic Energy Agency to Brazil's uranium enrichment plant. One rationale he used was Brazil's unhappiness that the Bush administration would consider using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries.

On 05 October 2004 Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that "Brazil has nothing to hide in terms of its uranium enrichment process except for the technology that Brazil has acquired, and which Brazil naturally wishes to protect.... It's perfectly possible to conciliate the objectives of the Atomic Energy Agency, to give them the certainty that the entire enrichment process is only for peaceful purposes, that there is no deviation of uranium, while at the same time protecting the Brazilian technology. Specifically how that's to be done has to be discussed between the Agency's technical people and the Brazilian authorities in the sector, specifically at the Resende plant that will be visited. It is in our interest to solve this problem, because we want to put the Resende plant into operation, as we have economic needs. Brazil is such a huge country, we cannot do without any source of energy. Brazil has major uranium reserves, and it's only natural that we do not want to have to send our uranium abroad to be enriched, to then have to have to come back to Brazil."

Interviewed 05 October 2004 in Brasilia by Brazil's "TV Global," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, in a reiteration of prior U.S. statements on the subject, that the United States fully accepts that Brazil has no desire, plans or interest in developing a nuclear weapon, but rather aims to develop a nuclear power program for peaceful purposes. Powell said Brazil's plan for a nuclear power program is an issue between the Brazilians and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which works for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The United States hopes that in due course Brazil "will see the wisdom" of signing on to what is called the "Additional Protocol" to expand the IAEA's authority to detect clandestine nuclear programs and increase the number of nuclear-related activities that a signatory must declare to the agency, Powell said.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 21-09-2012 16:30:00 ZULU