Brazil can negotiate, but it will decide as a sovereign country the terms
of a possible additional agreement for international inspections of Brazilian
uranium enrichment facilities. That was the message to the world from Brazilian
Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, during a public hearing at Brazil's House
"This issue of accepting
the additional protocol has no deadline to be signed, but must be analyzed
with calm and poise, concerning the countries involved and concerning our
technology in order that we are able to make a decision in a sovereign way,
when the time is ripe."
From the moment it proposed
the construction of a uranium treatment plant in Resende, in
the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has faced political duels
with the United States government and inspectors from the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They demand access to the entire
system of the installation, even before its inauguration, which
is scheduled for July.
on the National Radio's Brazil Magazine ("Revista Brasil")
program, José Luiz Santana, a nuclear scientist and professor
at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said that he believes
that accusations in Sunday's edition of the Washington Post
newspaper, accusing Brazil of blocking access by IAEA inspectors,
are a reflection of the US government's "pressure tactics"
concerning this matter.
proposed that Brazil sign an Additional Protocol on nuclear
energy. Santana considers this proposal inadmissible. "The
American government's proposal contains conditions that violate
our citizenship," he said. He explained that the document
will "assure the right of international inspectors to enter
the country when they want and enter installations without asking
scientist believes that the US has no reason for concern, since
Brazil's objectives are peaceful, in accordance with the Constitution.
"Since the end of the `80's, we have had the capability
to develop an atomic bomb. But our path is pacifistic,"
defended the Brazilian government's decision to hide the machinery
in the Resende nuclear plant behind screens, making it impossible
for inspectors to get a full view. "Industrial technologies
should be kept secret, because they have commercial value and
add up to financial returns through systems, software programs,
and equipment," he asserted.
after it is enriched, is one of the elements used to produce
nuclear energy. The ore is readily available in Brazil: The
country possesses 309 thousand tons, according to estimates
by the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (INB), an entity linked
to the Ministry of Science and Technology. The reserves are
located in the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Ceará,
is employed in various areas, such as nuclear medicine, industry,
and aviation. The production of enriched uranium can save Brazil
US$ 19 million every 14 months. However, the manipulation of
this mineral arouses uneasiness among other nations with respect
to its utilization. If it is enriched to a 90 percent base,
uranium can serve as the active element in atomic bombs used
for mass destruction.
the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations released the following
official note on the country's uranium enrichment plant:
program, as the Brazilian constitution requires, is exclusively for peaceful
ends and has been in compliance with safeguards established by the Brazil-Argentine
Accounting and Control Agency (ABACC) and the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) since 1994.
"Doubts have never
been raised about Brazilian compliance with international norms and treaties
dealing with these matters and to which Brazil is a signatory nation: the
Tlatelolco Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as the Nuclear
Test Prohibition Treaty, although the latter is no longer in effect because
it was not ratified by all nations possessing nuclear weapons.
building a commercial uranium enrichment plant in order to supply
nuclear fuel for a company in Resende, Rio de Janeiro (Indústrias
Nucleares do Brasil (INB)). The uranium enriched in this plant
does not reach a high level of concentration; on the contrary,
the concentration level of enrichment is only 5 percent.
The resultant enriched
uranium will fuel the Brazilian nuclear power plants, Angra 1 and II, which
are now operational, and a third power plant, Angra III, under construction.
The main equipment in the plant are ultra centrifuges which were developed
Although the Resende uranium
enrichment plant is still not operational, Brazil is presently engaged in
discussions with the ABACC and AIEA regarding safeguards for it. The Brazilian
government is not imposing any conditions that would make adequate application
of effective, reliable safeguards unfeasible.
Other Brazilian installations
already have established safeguard procedures and do not have any outstanding
problems with the AIEA.
With regard to the Resende
plant, Brazil wishes to guarantee that the safeguard procedures adopted will
respect two principles established in the above-mentioned agreements: on one
hand, make it possible for regulatory agencies to exert effective control
on the nuclear material used, and, on the other hand, to ensure that Brazil
can protect technological secrets and its commercial interests.
At this moment negotiations
for verification procedures. which will guarantee the complete control of
the material produced at the Resende plant, including the level of enrichment,
are underway with the AIEA. The proposed procedures have already been accepted
by the ABACC.
The Brazilian government
considers it unacceptable to attempt to compare Brazil with other countries
that have recently been found engaging in secret or undeclared nuclear activities.
Brazil has rigorously complied with the Guadalajara Agreement, the Four Party
Agreement, the Tlatelolco Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In view of the fact that
there has been an absence of progress in disarmament, the Brazilian government
calls on those countries actively involved in non-proliferation to be coherent
with the general objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and prepare for
the 2005 conference that will review non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament
progress made since the last conference in 2000 with the objective of eventually
achieving complete elimination of atomic arsenals."
On April 4, the Washington
Post published an article alleging that Brazil is not allowing experts
from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the uranium
enrichment plant that is under construction in Resende, in the state of Rio
According to the newspaper,
the Brazilian refusal could create a precedent for other countries. The story
was also covered by the New York Times and the CNN television network.
The Ministry of Science
and Technology denied that Brazil is hindering the access of nuclear weapons
inspectors to the Brazilian uranium enrichment facility in Resende. "Any
speculation that casts doubt on the peaceful intentions of the Brazilian nuclear
project is unacceptable," Minister Eduardo Campos declared through his
According to the Ministry,
the Resende installations produce enriched uranium for electric energy generation,
not the purer type that can be used in nuclear weapons. The Ministry confirmed
that international inspectors visited the Brazilian Nuclear Industry (INB)
in February and March of this year and, throughout the installation, the only
area to which they were denied access was the centrifuge that produces the
enriched uranium. This is a way to "protect" the technology used
in the equipment, according to the government.
The Ministry guarantees
that Brazil is negotiating with the IAEA on the use of other inspection methods
when the Resende industrial plant begins operations, experimentally, in October.
itself determines the use of nuclear energy exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Brazil is a signatory of nuclear arms non-proliferation treaties and has always
condemned terrorism," the Minister also affirmed.
Nádia Faggiani works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com