Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, declared that Brazil has nothing to hide from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with regard to its nuclear installations located in Resende, state of Rio de Janeiro.
However, Amorim added that the country intends to delay the signature of an additional protocol with the IAEA, which would permit more extensive inspections, because Brazil does not wish to reveal its technological advances at this moment.
“We are producing enriched uranium for pacific purposes. We are just keeping all our options open regarding energy sources,” declared the minister during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
The IAEA is scheduled to make an inspection tour of the Resende plant in the next few days.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the United States is not worried about the Brazilian nuclear program.
“I do not see the Brazilian program as the same type of program that Iran and North Korea are involved in. North Korea already has nuclear weapons,” he said.
Brazil’s Minister of Defense, José Viegas, said at the end of June that he regards as normal United Nations inspections of nuclear facilities for the production and enrichment of uranium in Brazil.
According to the Minister, this is foreseen in the international agreements signed by the country, including ones with the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
Viegas pointed out, however, that it is necessary “indeed, to negotiate with the international agencies about the specific features of the future safekeeping agreement that will orient the inspections in the Rezende production facilities.”
As for being inspected by the UN, Brazil will never refuse that it be done, Viegas affirmed.
No Fear of Sanctions
The Minister of Defense assured members of Brazil’s Foreign Relations and National Defense Commission, in the Chamber of Deputies, that there is no risk that Brazil will suffer international sanctions for the country’s nuclear program.
“Since Brazil complies to a tee with all nuclear weapons non-proliferation agreements and respects all the treaties, there isn’t the least chance of suffering any type of sanction. There is no way to sanction a country that didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
Viegas explained to the Deputies that Brazil’s nuclear policy is legitimate and only seeks to further business interests. The Minister reiterated the country’s commitment not to develop weapons and to restrict technological research in the nuclear field to peaceful ends.
Brazil’s nuclear policy was questioned in April by a report in the Washington Post. The American newspaper asserted that Brazil barred a visit by international inspectors to the uranium enrichment plant in Resende, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
The article gave rise to a series of declarations and an official note from the federal government rejecting the Post‘s insinuations.
According to the Minister, the Brazilian government’s decision to maintain the “visual screens” in the country’s uranium enrichment plant was intended to ensure the protection of national research in this area.
“At no time did this attitude signify an impediment to the inspections. It is a curtain that we even negotiated with the International Atomic Energy Commission. We just want a setting to protect our technology,” he guaranteed.
Brazil has one of the largest uranium reserves in the world and the most sophisticated nuclear program in Latin America.
Translator: Allen Bennett