433. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State1

2704. Subject: Draft Memorandum of Conversation of Second Bilateral Meeting Between Presidents Carter and Geisel, March 30, 1978, 11:15 a.m.2

1. The following is a draft Memorandum of Conversation for the second bilateral meeting between Presidents Carter and Geisel on March 30 at 11:15 a.m. For most of the meeting, participants on the US side in addition to President Carter were: Secretary Vance, Dr. Brzezinski and Chargé Richard E. Johnson; the Brazilian side was represented by President Geisel, Foreign Minister Silveira and Counselor Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, the Minister’s Special Adviser for Bilateral Political and Economic Affairs. After a discussion of approximately forty-five minutes, the group was expanded with the addition of Assistant Secretary Todman, Director Lake, Mr. Pastor and Embassy Economic Counselor Ruser on the US side and Finance Minister Simonsen, Planning Minister Velloso, Industry and Commerce Minister Calmon De Sa and Counsel Nogueira, a Foreign Ministry Advisor for Political Affairs, on the Brazilian side.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to non-proliferation.]

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17. Changing the subject, President Carter stated that he had enjoyed his press conference earlier that morning.3 Questions arose on both nuclear matters and human rights. These were answered truthfully and honestly with an acknowledgement that there were certain difficulties in these areas and that they had been discussed with the Brazilian government. He pointed out to the press that we are interested in discussing these matters with the Brazilian government, adding that the differences are minor in comparison with areas of bilateral agreement.

18. President Geisel said that these two subjects could not have been avoided. Had he been a journalist, they would have figured in his line of attack as well. Obviously President Carter has an obligation to reply truthfully with an explanation of his views. It would be absurd were he to feel embarrassed in responding. Our differences are natural and are not as great as is often stated.

19. President Carter said he had two questions to raise concerning the nuclear question. Brazil, he said, has signed and ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco but will not recognize its applicability until all nations sign the Treaty. This would include nations which will never sign, like France and the Soviet Union, perhaps also Cuba (under Soviet pressure). Giscard D’Estaing has said he has no particular objections to Tlatelolco, but he has doubts as to the desirability of France taking part in these Western Hemisphere arrangements. President Carter aked whether, if Argentina signs and the list of Central and South American signatories is thereby completed, Brazil would agree to implement the accord?

20. President Geisel replied that this question would require further study. Argentina does not cause major concern for Brazil, he said. However, Brazil feels that countries like France and the USSR, which have nuclear weapons, should make a commitment pertaining to the non-use of these weapons in the Western Hemisphere. They should undertake to fight their wars elsewhere, not in South America, and to refrain from stockpiling their nuclear weapons here. Brazil wishes that the Russians, French and Chinese would also sign Tlatelolco. President Geisel said that the Ambassador of the Soviet Union, a country with which Brazil has fair relations, especially in the trade sphere, came to him with a note critical of Brazil’s accord with the Federal Republic of Germany. President Geisel said that he had to be a bit rude in his reply. He told the Soviet Ambassador that he had no right to bring this matter up in his dealings with Brazil, in the absence of Soviet acceptance of Tlatelolco obligations.

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21. Foreign Minister Silveira said there were three phases in the implementation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco—the signing, the ratification and finally the acceptance of the treaty by the nuclear powers. Brazil believes that with the signing of Tlatelolco it has committed itself not to manufacture nuclear weapons. Under the Geneva Convention on Treaties, if a country has signed an agreement, it is binding even though it may not have been fully ratified, and that country must comply with the agreement’s terms pending ratification. Brazil feels that it must continue to work for a ban on nuclear attacks on this continent and on the storage of nuclear weapons here; Brazil does not wish to abandon the pressure on this point. This firm Brazilian policy of seeking guarantees from the Soviet Union and other countries was adopted after the Cuban missile crisis, when President Kennedy successfully pushed for the evacuation of missiles from Cuba. Brazil came out firmly in favor of assurances against the establishment in the Western Hemisphere of bases for the storage of arms. President Kennedy’s successful handling of the Cuban missile crisis marked the beginning of a decrease in the pressure which Cuba exerted over Latin American nations. Brazil is totally committed at present not to manufacture nuclear weapons. The agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany provides that no nuclear devices will be manufactured even for peaceful uses. The manufacture of nuclear explosives even for peaceful uses is for Brazil in the realm of fantasy, and Brazil is not interested in fantasy.

22. President Carter noted that Brazil has accepted IAEA safeguards on installations purchased from the Federal Republic of Germany. He asked whether this applies to other installations.

23. President Geisel said that there are no unsafeguarded facilities in Brazil. This includes the facilities at universities where research is underway. Such facilities are under international controls. The scientific community in Brazil had hoped that Brazil’s failure to ratify might mean that their research would not be under international control, but was disappointed to learn that this was not to be the case. President Geisel reiterated that Brazil’s research centers are under Vienna safeguards, as well as anything constructed under the agreement with the FRG. Brazil feels that the IAEA should be strengthened and possibly reorganized to permit it to conduct its activities in Brazil and throughout the world. As a UN agency, it should be in a position to use any necessary resources to fulfill its purposes.

24. President Carter said that when his administration began there was no systematic formulation for considering requests for the supply of nuclear fuel abroad. US policy in this respect was variable. There is now in existence within the USG an entity responsible for such allocations. President Carter noted that he cannot control these allocations al[Page 1087]though he can exercise a veto power. We have recently passed a law which clarifies the circumstances under which the US will ship nuclear fuel in the future. It is important that Ambassador Smith return to Brazil and meet with the Brazilian authorities in order that there can be a clear understanding by both sides of the terms of this legislation, and so that Brazil’s future needs for nuclear fuel can be met, consistent with US law. This law makes US terms clearer and will help avoid future interruptions in supply.

25. President Geisel said that he had not as yet examined the complete text of the law, but had read about certain of its provisions. He is aware that it calls for the renegotiation of existing accords with re-gard to the supply of nuclear fuel. Brazil has a 1972 agreement with the United States in this sphere. The Angra I nuclear power facility is under construction, with Westinghouse contributing. The US has agreed to furnish enriched fuel for the startup as well as for re-loading for a thirty-year period. President Geisel said that he had heard that the US has recently reaffirmed its commitment to furnish the startup fuel; he had expected nothing less of US, but was nevertheless pleased with this reaffirmation. Brazil is, however, concerned about subsequent shipments for re-loading over the thirty-year period, and would be happy to receive Ambassador Smith to discuss this question and examine the implications of the new legislation. President Geisel expressed confidence that no problems would emerge.

26. Foreign Minister Silveira said that there were no activities in Brazil not subject to safeguards. This is a concrete fact; this situation will continue to prevail unless there is a change in the status quo.

27. President Carter noted that Brazil has recently signed an agreement with the FRG to exchange technical information concerning the thorium fuel cycle. The United States welcomes this action. Our offer also remains open. The US has thorium and has had extensive experience in this area. Our only breeder reactor is based on thorium. If the German agreement turns out to be inadequate or if Brazil feels the need for more consultations on the thorium fuel cycle, we will be glad to cooperate. The US believes that the INFCE studies represent a good means of learning from one another. There are certain unpredictabilities in the nuclear sphere which need to be resolved. The INFCE studies do not have as their objective persuading countries to take action which is against their own interests, but rather are designed to help interested nations work together.

28. President Geisel responded that Brazil is very active in INFCE and is pleased to be involved in this kind of cooperative effort. Thorium cooperation with the FRG is not a new development, but rather has been underway for some time (Foreign Minister Silveira interjected at [Page 1088] this point that it began in 1979).4 President Geisel observed that the United States is working along the same lines and that Brazil wanted to cooperate in an endeavor in which all have an interest.

29. President Carter agreed, stating that this is one more approach to a solution of the energy problem, an excruiatingly difficult matter for all of us.

30. President Geisel said he is happy about the US initiative on the bilateral examination of problems in areas involving other kinds of fuel. Brazil is seeking to develop alcohol as a source of energy, a natural direction for Brazilian efforts since the country has large land reserves. Brazil has found new and higher grades of coal deposits in the south, and the US offer to cooperate in coal research and development is most welcome. President Geisel said he was extremely happy over the prospect of joint efforts to cooperate in resolving the energy problem and to improve the outlook, in the face of the inevitable eventual exhaustion of oil reserves.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to non-proliferation.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850104–2220. Secret; Immediate; Cherokee; Nodis.
  2. No final version of this conversation was found. Carter and Geisel discussed Africa, the Middle East, and the overall U.S.-Brazilian relationship in their first meeting on March 29. (Telegram 6924 from Brasilia, April 4; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Subject File, Box 63, President’s Trip to Brazil and Venezuela (3/78): 1–5/78)
  3. The text of Carter’s March 30 press conference is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1978, pp. 627–634.
  4. An error in transcription; Silveira meant 1978.