Brazil and weapons of mass destruction

Brazil and weapons of mass destruction

Based on Brazil's history, it is believed that the country does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. Although a covert nuclear weapons program was pursued by Brazil under a military government in the 1980s, it ended with the rise of an elected government in 1985. José Sarney (President 1985-1990) is reported to have stated that the previous military dictatorship had gone as far as preparing a nuclear weapon test site.

Brazil is among the powers which possess the ability to create nuclear weapons but has agreed not to do so (under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as reaffirmed by the Two Plus Four Treaty). Brazil has a program to produce enriched uranium for power plants using Zippe-type centrifuges, officially opening the Resende enrichment plant in May 2006 [ [ BBC News: Brazil joins world's nuclear club] ] . Brazil's enrichment technology development, and the plant itself, involved substantial discussions with the IAEA and its constituent nations. The dispute came down to whether IAEA representatives (many from countries with their own commercial enrichment programs) would be allowed to inspect the machines themselves. The Brazilian authorities, at first, did not allow the inspection of the centrifugal machines, arguing that this would reveal technological secrets (probably relating to the use of electromagnetic levitation instead of fragile and unreliable bearings to allow the rotor to spin in place). The Brazilian authorities said that, as Brazil is not part of any axis of evil, the pressure for full access to inspection - inspection even in universities - could be construed as an attempt to pirate industrial secrets [ [ Jornal da Ciência (In Portuguese)] ] . They also claimed that their technology is better than that of the USA and France, mainly because the centrifugal axis is not mechanical, but electromagnetic. American authorities have stated that a significant improvement using this technique is unlikely to be possibleFact|date=February 2007. They still believed the inspection should have been made to guarantee there are no nuclear weapons being built. Eventually, after extensive negotiations, agreement was reached that while not directly inspecting the centrifuges, the IAEA would inspect the composition of the gas entering and leaving the centrifuge. US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stated in 2004 that he was "sure" that Brazil had no plans to develop nuclear weapons [ [ BBC News: US 'sure' of Brazil nuclear plans] ] .

If Brazil decided to pursue a nuclear weapon, the centrifuges at the Resende plants could easily be reconfigured to produce enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb quite quickly - possibly around six bombs per year [ [ How Brazil Spun the Atom] ] . Brazil wishes to develop a nuclear submarine fleet, and in 2007 authorised the construction of a prototype submarine propulsion reactor [citation|url=|title=Brazil’s Pursuit of a Nuclear Submarine Raises Proliferation Concerns|author=Sarah Diehl and Eduardo Fujii|publisher=WMD Insights|date=March 2008|accessdate=2008-03-27] .


Aramar Experimental Center

The Aramar Experimental Center (Portuguese: Centro Experimental de Aramar) located in Iperó in the State of São Paulo, was inaugurated in 1988 as the first uranium-only enrichment plant in Brazil. The facility is run by the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) and the Brazilian Navy. In addition to the Centrifuge Enrichment Plant, the facility also hosts an Isotopic Enrichment Laboratory and several Small Nuclear Centers (Portuguese: Pequenas Centrais Nucleares, or PCNs). The enrichment laboratories are under the National Safeguards control and national inspections are carried out by the Safeguards Division of CNEN. [ [ WMD Facilities: Aramar Experimental Center, Iperó] ]

Cachimbo Test Site

The Cachimbo test site, officially the Brigadeiro Velloso Test Site (Portuguese: Campo de Provas Brigadeiro Velloso), is located in the State of Pará and covers 45,000 square kilometres, an area larger than the Netherlands. It is within this military area that a 320 meters-deep hole at the Cachimbo Mountain Range was site for nuclear explosives tests. The shaft has been public knowledge since 1986 and was allegedly abandoned in September 1990, when President Fernando Collor de Mello used a small shovel to symbolically seal up the hole. [ [ WMD Facilities: Cachimbo] ]

Army's Technology Center (Guaratiba)

The Army's Technology Center (Portuguese: Centro Tecnológico do Exército, or CETEx) located in Guaratiba in the State of Rio de Janeiro is the site of the plutonium-producing reactor facility, known as 'The Atlantic Project', managed by the Brazilian Army's Special Projects Institute – IPE. Reports indicate that the gas-graphite reactor would be capable of producing plutonium for atomic bombs. [ [ WMD Facilities: Guaratiba] ]

Air Force Technological Center (São José dos Campos)

The Air Force Technological Center (Portuguese: Centro de Tecnologia da Aeronautica, or CTA) is a research facility located in São José dos Campos, in the State of São Paulo where nuclear research is also conducted. [ [ WMD Facilities: São José dos Campos] ]

Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory

The Resende Nuclear Fuel Facility (Portuguese: Fábrica de Combustíveis Nucleares, or FCN) is a nuclear enrichment facility located in Resende, in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The plant is managed by the Nuclear Industries of Brazil (Portuguese: Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil, or INB) and by the Brazilian Navy. Currently the plant produces enough HEU for 26 to 31 implosion type warheads. [ [ WMD Facilities: Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory (FCN)] ]

Legislation and conventions

Brazil's 1988 Constitution states in Article 21 that "all nuclear activity within the national territory shall only be admitted for peaceful purposes and subject to approval by the National Congress".

Brazil acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on September 18, 1998, ratified the Geneva Protocol on 28 August 1970, the Biological Weapons Convention on 27 February 1973 and the Chemical Weapons Convention on 13 March 1996.

Brazil is also an active participant in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, multinational agencies concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development.


ee also

* Angra Nuclear Power Plant

External links

Official sites
* [ Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil] "Brazilian Nuclear Industries" en icon
* [ Centro de Desenvolvimento da Tecnologia Nuclear] "Center of Nuclear Technology Development" en icon
* [ Instituto de Pesquisas Energéticas Nucleares] "National Nuclear Energy Research Institute" pt icon
* [ Instituto de Engenharia Nuclear] "Nuclear Engineering Institute" pt icon
* [ Centro Regional de Ciências Nucleares] "Central-West Nuclear Sciences Regional Center" pt icon
* [ Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear] "National Nuclear Energy Commission" pt icon
* [ Eletronuclear] Manages Brazil's nuclear power plants pt icon
* [ Associação Brasileira de Energia Nuclear] "Brazilian Association of Nuclear Energy" pt icon
* [ Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials] en icon pt icon es icon
* [ Campo de Provas Brigadeiro Velloso] "Cachimbo Test Site" pt icon
* [ Comando-Geral de Tecnologia Aeroespacial] "Brazilian Army - Aerospace Technology General-Command" pt icon

Scientific sites
* [ Jornal da Ciência's article (in Portuguese)]

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