Brazil Goes After France’s Technology to Build Its First Nuclear Submarine

French submarine Scorpène class Brazil wants to become the first country in Latin America to have a nuclear submarine. For that the country is seeking to acquire military technology from France that could help Brazilian achieve this goal. The information was released on Monday, January 28, by the Brazilian Defense Ministry.

Brazil's Defense Minister, Nelson Jobim, traveled to Paris last week to discuss the possible purchase of a diesel-powered Scorpène class submarine that would "serve as a model for the development of a nuclear submarine, which is the main objective of his visit," admitted Defense Ministry spokesman José Ramos.

"Any defense-related agreement that may eventually be signed with France must include the transfer of technology," Ramos emphasized, noting that while Brazil has nuclear reactors and fuel enrichment capacity, it yet has not the technology to build a nuclear submarine.

Ramos declined to confirm a report, published by the daily Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that Brazil would buy the submarine for US$ 600 million, paid over 20 years at an annual interest rate of 2.4% percent.

Brazil has discussed building a nuclear submarine for decades, and began a formal program in 1979 under the military regime. Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, announced US$ 540 million in new funding for the program and for existing uranium enrichment efforts last July.

Brazil currently has five conventionally powered submarines. Copper rich Chile recently renewed its submersible fleet with the acquisition of two Scorpène class submarines.

If an agreement results in the construction of a nuclear submarine then "Brazil will surely become the first country in Latin America to have one" said Daryl Kimball who is executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan research group.

Ramos said Brazil wants to establish a strategic partnership with France to transfer technology. France is interested in Brazilian know-how on jungle warfare and "the use of electronic equipment in the humidity of tropical rain forests," he said.

The Brazilian air force and arms industry, dating back to the US arms embargo in the seventies, has a long standing close relation with France.



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