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

10578. USIAEA. Subject: Status Report on Non-Proliferation: 1979, The Transition From Geisel to Figueiredo. Ref: (A) Brasilia 7869;2 (B) Brasilia 8069;3 (C) Brasilia 6944;4 (D) Brasilia 9285;5 (E) Brasilia 4687;6

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(F) State 290745;7 (G) Brasilia 9251;8 (H) Brasilia 8791;9 (I) Brasilia 10313;10 (J) Brasilia 9281;11 (K) Brasilia 9814.12

1. (S—Entire text).

2. Begin summary: The transition in 1979 from Geisel to the Figueiredo administration bought few major changes to Brazilian non-proliferation policies. The GOB continues to refuse to consider the NPT [Page 1137] or to waive Tlatelolco into force. It also continues to foreswear any action contravening Tlatelolco’s objectives and any intentions of developing a nuclear explosive device. The major new developments of non-proliferation concern in 1979 were: (a) a more active nuclear diplomacy, with GOB negotiating nuclear arrangements for cooperation in peaceful applications of nuclear energy with Argentina, Venezuela, and, of most concern, Iraq; and (b) a marked slow-down in the nuclear program undertaken with the West Germans. Of the factors causing the GOB to defer decisions to undertake costly new projects envisaged under FRGGOB nuclear accord, the troubled economy stands out as the most important and the least susceptible to change. If the nuclear power development continues to drag, there will be correspondingly less incentive to expand future enrichment and reprocessing capabilities beyond the experimental stage. The U.S. continues to have little influence on GOB nuclear policies. Our early full adherence to the Tlatelolco protocols would be well received here. A clear message to the GOB restating U.S. requirements for continued cooperation—perhaps tied to Tlatelolco protocal adherence—might prepare the way for a resumption of a more active nuclear relationship. End summary.

[Omitted here is the body of the telegram.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790595–0619. Secret. Sent for information to the U.S. Interests Section in Baghdad, Bonn, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Mexico City, and Vienna.
  2. Telegram 7869 from Brasilia, September 5, reported that Hervasio de Carvalho, the Brazilian representative to the IAEA, said “that Brazil would not waive the entry-into-force requirements” of the Treaty of Tlateloloco. He also said “that the Treaty was designed as a whole and it would not make sense unless all Latin American countries adhered and unless the major powers accepted the protocols.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790412–0684)
  3. See Document 455.
  4. Telegram 6944 from Brasilia, August 6, reported that during a July 25–28 visit to Caracas by Brazilian Foreign Minister Guerreiro, the Brazilian and Venezuelan governments “concluded a general agreement for cooperation in peaceful applications of nuclear energy. According to the GOB Foreign Ministry, cooperation is planned to be limited to personnel training in Brazil and uranium prospecting techniques and will not include technology transferred from the US or FRG.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790357–1212)
  5. Telegram 9285 from Brasilia, October 22, informed the Department that “a Delegation of Brazilian nuclear specialists, headed by NUCLEBRAS President Paulo Nogueira Batista, visited Iraq in early October for further discussion of a possible nuclear agreement between the two countries.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790488–0082)
  6. Telegram 4687 from Brasilia, May 25, relayed Brazilian press reports that “during the visit of the Iraqi Vice President a secret agreement was reached between Iraq and Brazil under which Iraq could obtain plutonium from Brazil.” A spokesman from the Brazilian Foreign Minister “denied ‘categorically’ that Brazil had entered into a secret agreement and said that the report ‘is entirely out of the question.’ He stressed that Brazil does not have functioning nuclear reactors capable of producing plutonium, thus indicating that the transaction could not possibly be implemented.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790258–0783)
  7. Telegram 290745 to Brasilia, November 7, informed the Embassy that Carvalho told Pickering on October 24 that “there was pressure from those in the nuclear energy field in Brazil to terminate nuclear relations with the US altogether and give the business to URENCO or Brazil’s own enrichment plant when it came on stream, rather than renegotiate the US-Brazil agreement. Carvalho said that he wanted to continue cooperation with the US and wanted to find out what the US was willing to do to avoid a renegotiation and fulfill its supply commitment for Angra I.” Pickering said “we were not demanding renegotiation of the agreement but needed confirmation that all of Brazil’s nuclear activities were under safeguards.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790515–1126)
  8. Telegram 9251 from Brasilia, October 20, reported that a Foreign Ministry Energy official “denied a press report of Oct 13 that the GOB is planning to renounce its agreement with the US for cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy. He commented that the possibility had not even been raised.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790481–0646)
  9. Telegram 8791 from Brasilia, October 5, reported that the Brazilian Minister of Mines had “publicly stated October 1 that the Brazilian nuclear program with West Germany had slowed down and that the eight 1300–MWS originally envisaged under the accord would not be built until 1995 (when the accord expires). Even this estimate appears optimistic according to informed sources which indicate that present plans call for only four power plants to be built by 1995.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790460–0882)
  10. Telegram 10313 from Brasilia, November 28, reported numerous delays, rising cost estimates, and “an apparently unrealistic schedule calling for completion of the fuel cycle technology transfer by 1986 and for all nine reactors of the Brazilian nuclear program to be in operation by 1995 continues to be defended in public by the Minister of Mines and Energy, but statements and plans by other government officials and agencies do not support this.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790553–1042)
  11. Telegram 9281 from Brasilia, October 22, reported that according to press accounts, General Dirceu Coutinho, the former head of Nucleim, the uranium enrichment subsidiary of NUCLEBRAS, “urged that the Brazilian reactor construction program be suspended after three units presently contractor for, until nuclear power became economically competitive in Brazil and Brazil could develop a viable enrichment system.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790487–0329)
  12. Telegram 9814 from Brasilia, November 8, reported a member of the Argentine Embassy “confirmed press reports” that “Argentina and Brazil are negotiating agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation.” Such cooperation would “cover uranium mining, training, long term research and industrial exchange,” including “one sensitive area: laser production of heavy water.” Representatives from both Argentina and Brazil “ruled out any military or PNE application.” The Embassy said “such bilateral cooperation would serve to improve capabilities and hence independence of both nations in nuclear technology. However cooperation could also serve to open each nation’s nuclear programs and to create trust between two potential nuclear rivals. Hence we support Embassy Buenos Aires’ assessment that nuclear cooperation between Brazil and Argentina is on balance in US interests.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790519–0839)