398. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Brazil1

Tovip 22. 18228. For the Ambassador from the Secretary. Subject: Message From the Secretary to Foreign Minister Silveira. Rome for Aaron with Vice President’s Party.

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1. Unless you perceive objection, please deliver the following message, and make the following points, to Foreign Minister Silveira:

Begin quote: Dear Mr. Minister:

I have asked Ambassador Crimmins to make himself available to you and want to convey to you, by means of this letter and his presence, the importance we attach to our relationship with Brazil.

We wish to affirm our desire to continue the consultative processes which have served both countries so well over the years. My colleagues in this administration would welcome your views on the various issues—bilateral, regional and global—with which our two governments will be confronted in coming months. For my own part, I am looking forward to the early opportunity of meeting you.

Please accept my best wishes.


Cyrus Vance. End quote.

2. You can make any or all of the following points orally to Silveira:

—I am deeply concerned that events and newspaper stories of the past week2 not affect US-Brazilian relations;

—We would like to move ahead promptly to consult on the full range of issues outstanding between us, including the nuclear. I recognize that the differences on some issues are deep, but I am committed to attempting to reduce them, where that may be possible, by frank consultation;

—I believe we owe the GOB an early and authoritative presentation of the perspectives President Carter’s administration brings to the nuclear issue. We would be prepared to send a representative to Brasilia for that purpose at Silveira’s convenience.

—While we have not worked out detailed nuclear policies—and do not intend to consult on important issues through the press—I would like the Foreign Minister to know that in his discussions with Chancellor Schmidt, Vice President Mondale conveyed President Carter’s interest in moving toward official discussions with both the FRG and Brazil on nuclear exports and non-proliferation issues.3 (FYI:

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We do not yet have an account of the Vice President’s discussions with Schmidt.)

We wish to discuss with you a range of possibilities for meeting Brazil’s legitimate energy needs, without incurring proliferation risks. One possibility we would be prepared to consider is a guarantee, within the context of FRG supply of nuclear reactors, of the nuclear fuel needed for Brazil’s full economic development, if this would help defer indefinitely the enrichment and reprocessing elements of the contract.

—This approach would not require abrogation of your contract with the FRG, but would be based on joint agreement between the parties concerned.

—This is not a concern focused on Brazil; it is a global issue. We recognize that we both share a strong non-proliferation interest and we support Brazil in its desire to expand and diversify its energy sources. Our concern is rather with the global implications of any precedent-setting transfer of sensitive nuclear technology. As you will recognize, the approach we suggest would meet both your economic and our mutual non-proliferation interests.

—As you know, this administration is approaching the proliferation question in all its aspects including the need for greater efforts on the part of nuclear weapons states. This balanced view is the context in which we are seeking indefinite deferral of the enrichment and reprocessing projects.

(If asked: We will pursue our concerns about the Pakistani reprocessing project with both France and Pakistan.4 The Administration views all such transfers in the same light, and attaches the highest importance to finding acceptable alternatives.)

—On the broader question of our relationships, we would welcome the GOB’s views on how and when we might move ahead on consultations covering the full range of issues of mutual interest. I am inclined to believe that it might be useful to begin promptly with at least some of the existing sub-groups, but I do hope to meet with you when our respective calendars can be clarified.

—I would have no objection if the GOB wished to convey the flavor of my written message above to the press. I would prefer that any public references to the nuclear issue be confined to our willingness to consult at an authoritative level in an effort to acquaint the GOB with our perspectives and to seek better understanding of the Brazilian position.

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3. If, in your judgment, there are better ways to proceed in the present circumstances, please let me have your views immediately.

4. Unless I hear from you promptly, I will also convey the foregoing to Ambassador Pinheiro as soon as an appointment can be arranged.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Country File, Box 2, Brazil, 1–2/77. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to Bonn and Rome. Drafted by Charles W. Bray III (ARA), Regina Eltz (ARA/ECA), and John Kalicki (ARA/ECA); cleared by W.H. Luers (ARA); and approved by Vance. The telegram number “Tovip 22” is handwritten.
  2. The Washington Post reported on January 26, 1977, that Vice President Mondale, during his meeting in Bonn with West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, requested the FRG curb its sale of nuclear technology to Brazil. The Los Angeles Times also reported the same week that Carter objected to a German agreement to construct a plant in Brazil for reprocessing spent nuclear reactor fuel “because it would give Brazil plutonium, which can be used only for making nuclear weapons.” (David Broder and Michale Getler, “U.S.-Bonn Agree to Early Talks on Nuclear Curb,” Washington Post, January 26, 1977, p. A1; “Mondale Wins German Promise on Nuclear Sales,” Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1977, p. A2)
  3. Mondale met with Schmidt on January 25 in Bonn. He reported on his meeting in telegram Bonn 590 from Mondale to Brzezinski, September 25. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 24, German Federal Republic, 1–3/77) In his memoirs, Brzezinski wrote that after Mondale expressed “our strong opposition to the deal,” Schmidt “stood firm” and gave only his “assurance” that the FRG “would observe existing international safeguards” against the proliferation of weapons-making materials. (Brzezinski, Power and Principle, p. 131)
  4. In April 1974, France agreed to supply a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Pakistan.
  5. That afternoon, Crimmins met with Silveira and conveyed Vance’s talking points. (Telegram 777 from Brasilia, January 20; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840086–0900)