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Brazzil - Nuclear Energy - May 2004

Minister: Brazil's Uranium Not for Sale

In response to news that Brazil will be soon selling uranium to
China, Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology said that
his country's Constitution limits the use of nuclear science in Brazil
to peaceful purposes. He cited energy generation, cancer
treatment, and the irradiation of food products for export.

Edla Lula


Picture The Minister of Science and Technology, Eduardo Campos, denied that Brazil is in the process of signing an agreement with the Chinese government to furnish natural (unenriched) uranium.

"Brazil doesn't participate in the uranium market, because it imports enriched uranium," the Minister said, recalling that the country doesn't even have a facility to pulverize the product at the Angra I and Angra II nuclear power plants. He added that Brazil is not interested in selling natural uranium.

During Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's visit to China, the Minister met with members of the Chinese Science and Technology Commission for Industry and National Defense (Costind) to achieve progress in the partnership maintained by the two countries in the scientific sphere.

Regarding the matter of nuclear energy, the Minister said that there were no understandings to advance in their cooperation, since Brazil is still debating its nuclear program. According to the Minister, last November a preparatory mission for the presidential visit expressed an interest in working together with Brazil to explore possibilities of expanding their cooperation in the field of peaceful applications of nuclear energy, such as radioisotopes for medical and agriculture use and security at nuclear installations.

According to Campos, the question was broached once again on May 25, and the Brazilian government's response was that the matter could only be discussed after the review that is being conducted of the Brazilian program. "Brazil did not make any decision," he reasserted.

Campos observed that Brazil made an international commitment to cooperate in this area only with countries that are "responsible in nuclear terms." He also pointed out that the Brazilian Constitution prohibits the country from using nuclear energy for belligerent purposes.

"The Constitution says that the use of nuclear science in Brazil is for peaceful purposes. We only use nuclear science for energy generation, for the health of the population, as in diagnosis and cancer treatment, and the irradiation of food products which we export and which today's world requires to be irradiated," he underlined.

The Minister of Science and Technology warned that there is a misunderstanding in the report about furnishing uranium to China. "In August, if we in the government have completed our revision of the nuclear program, we shall resume discussions with the Chinese or other countries that respect international treaties, that behave responsibly when it comes to the nuclear field," he affirmed.

No Problem with the IAEA

Earlier this month, Campos had reaffirmed that there are no problems between Brazil and the International Atomic Energy Agency with regard to its nuclear industrial unit in Resende, Rio de Janeiro.

"We are in negotiations characterized by calm and goodwill. This matter will be dealt with at the 5th Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty next year," said the Minister.

According to Campos, the public is aware of the importance of the government's position on the matter. "We have a duty to respect the taxpayer who has been financing 20 years of research and nuclear power plant construction," he declared.

The Minister said that the country's nuclear program was one of the pillars of renewed development, not only because of the energy that will be produced, but because of the importance of the various technologies under development, ranging from pharmaceutical goods to nanotechnology to miniconductors.

Edla Lula works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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