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.
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.
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.