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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Origins of Brazil-Argentina Nuclear Cooperation

This selection of key documents show the origins of nuclear cooperation between Argentina and Brazil from the 1960s onwards. Together, these two countries averted a cycle of competition in the nuclear field that could have had serious geopolitical implications. See also Brazilian Nuclear History and the Origins of Nuclear Cooperation Critical Oral History Conference.

  • August 23, 1979

    Memorandum, Héctor A. Subiza, Head of the Latin American Department of the Argentinian Foreign Ministry, 'Cooperation with Brazil in the Nuclear Field.'

    In this memo, the Latin American department of the Argentine Foreign Ministry conveys its opinion on the Brazilian interest in including the nuclear issue in the agenda of the Special Brazilian-Argentine Committee on Cooperation (CEBAC), that the issue should be subordinated to the solution of the question of Itaipu.

  • December 10, 1979

    Memorandum DEM/132 by Luiz Augusto de Castro Neves, Deputy Chief of Energy and Mineral Resources, for the Head of the Department of Economy, 'Possible Brazil-Argentina Nuclear Cooperation'

    The document highlights the possibilities and advantages of a nuclear cooperation agreement between Buenos Aires and Brasília, particularly after the dispute over the Itaipu dam and the visit of the president of CNEA, Castro Madero, to Brazil. In the last two pages of the document, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, João Clemente Baena Soares, Foreign Minister Saraiva Guerreiro and President Figueiredo react positively and they agree to invite Admiral Castro Madero to visit Brazil and to deepen the negotiations on nuclear cooperation.

  • January 28, 1980

    Cable on Meeting Between CNEA President Carlos Madero and Brazilian Ambassador Carlos F. Duarte

    A cable received from the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, regarding the visit of Admiral Castro Madero, the president of the National Atomic Energy Commission, to Brazil. Ambassador Duarte and Madero discussed nuclear energy and the importance of an eventual cooperation agreement between Brazil and Argentina.

  • February 12, 1980

    Telegram No. 146 from Brasília to Brazilian Embassy in Buenos Aires, 'Nuclear Energy. Brazil-Argentina Cooperation. Visit by President of CNEA'

    The telegram reports the visit of Admiral Castro Madero to Brazil between 28 and 30 January 1980 and his meetings with the presidents of the National Nuclear Energy Commission, Nuclebrás, and with the representatives of the Ministries of Energy and Foreign Relations. During the meetings, they talked about possible areas of cooperation and the signature of an agreement.

  • March 23, 1980

    Report from the President of Nuclebrás Paulo Nogueira Batista to Foreign Minister Saraiva Guerreiro, 'Trip to Buenos Aires'

    The document reports that the presidents of CNEN, Hervásio de Carvalho, and Nuclebrás, Paulo Nogueira Batista, had an unplanned meeting with the Argentine Foreign Minister, Pastor, which said “to consider the Brazilian-Argentine understanding [in the nuclear field] a fundamental issue for a inductive strategy of strengthening political and economic stability in the region to the extent that both countries would be in a stronger position to collaborate with their neighbors”.

  • June, 1981

    Secretary's Talking Points: US-China Relations

    This is a document containing talking points for Secretary of State Alexander Haig's meeting with Deng Xiaoping. Topics addressed in the document include: Chinese exportation of uranium and heavy water to South Africa and Argentina; the intention to suspend the prohibition of arm sales to China; greater nuclear and security cooperation; the increase in Chinese arm sales to countries dependent on the Soviet Union; and the desire to open a new consulate in Shenyang.

  • September 08, 1982

    Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 91-2-82, 'Argentina's Nuclear Policies in Light of the Falklands Defeat'

    The document reports that Argentina did not have a military component in its nuclear program and evaluates Argentina’s capacity of developing a nuclear program with military purposes.

  • December 13, 1982

    Note from Brazilian Congressman Herbert Levy

    This is a letter written by Brazilian Congressman Herbert Levy which reveals the content of his meetings with high U.S. governmental officials regarding his concern about Argentina’s nuclear activities less than a year after the Falklands/Malvinas War. In these conversations, Levy states that Argentina might develop a nuclear artifact.

  • November 18, 1983

    Letter, Argentinian President Bignone to Brazilian President Figueiredo

    Argentinian President Bignone informs Figueiredo of the Argentine capacity to enrich uranium.

  • November 19, 1983

    Letter, Brazilian President Figueiredo to Argentinian President Bignone

    In his answer to Argentinian President Bignone, Brazilian President João Batista Figueiredo expresses satisfaction for the result achieved by the neighbor country.

  • January 01, 1985

    Note from Argentine Ambassador García del Solar to the Argentine Foreign Ministry

    This document reveals an encounter between a U.S. State Department official and an Argentine diplomat in Washington D.C., in which the U.S. diplomat suggests to his Argentine counterpart that the U.S. government would warmly welcome an initiative by Argentina and Brazil regarding mutual inspections as well as a declaration renouncing the right to develop peaceful nuclear explosives.

  • January 10, 1985

    Memorandum from Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Abdenur to Minister Saraiva Guerreiro, 'Brazil-Argentina. Nuclear energy'

    Report on the bilateral nuclear relationship between Brazil and Argentina from the Alfonsín presidency until the end of the Figueiredo Administration. The main theme is a possible joint declaration on the renunciation of nuclear explosives. Alfonsín and Foreign Minister Caputo are in favor, but elements within the Brazilian government remain opposed.

  • April 30, 1985

    Information to the Chief of DEC, 'Nuclear Energy. Brazil-Argentina Relations.'

    The document reports the Brazilian government’s concern in regard to President Alfonsín’s imminent proposal to create a mechanism of regional nuclear control in Latin America.

  • May 13, 1985

    Memorandum from the Argentine General Directorate for Nuclear Affairs and Disarmament, 'Cooperation with Brazil in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy'

    This memo from the Argentine General Directorate of Nuclear Affairs and Disarmament to the South America Directorate proposes a joint Argentine-Brazilian declaration on the peaceful use of nuclear weapons. Rejecting the establishment of IAEA safeguards, the memo instead suggests a "mutual guarantee mechanism" based on cooperation and inspections on a case by case basis.

  • May 14, 1985

    Memorandum No 294/85 from Ambassador Saracho to the Secretary of State Jorge Sábato, 'Cooperation with Brazil on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy'

    The memo produced by the General Directory of Nuclear and Disarmament Issues of the Argentine Foreign Ministry presents a strategy in regard to Brazil in the nuclear area, considering the meetings between Dante Caputo and Olavo Setúbal between 20 and 21 May 1985 in Buenos Aires. Argentina presented the regime of mutual inspections as the most important aspect.

  • September 02, 1985

    Cable from Rafael Vazquez, Argentinian Ambassador to Brazil, Requesting Meeting with the Brazilian Foreign Minister

    In this cable to Buenos Aires, Ambassador Vazquez reports that he requested a meeting with Minister Olavo Setúbal after General Leonidas Pires Gonçalves suggested that he would support a Brazilian nuclear weapons program. Vazquez also discusses a conversation with the Brazilian Foreign Minister's chief of staff, who told Vazquez that General Leônidas Pires refuted the reports of a Brazilian atomic bomb.

  • October, 1985

    Brazil-Argentina Joint Statement on Regional Nuclear Policy

    Proposed joint statement to create an Argentina-Brazil working group to discuss nuclear energy.

  • October, 1985

    Memorandum to President Sarney, 'Brazil-Argentina. Cooperation on Nuclear Affairs.'

    An Argentine delegation proposed a joint statement on regional nuclear policy and a mutual inspection system between Brazil and Argentina.

  • October 10, 1985

    Memorandum from the Argentine General Directorate for Nuclear Affairs and Disarmament, 'Overflight by Brazilian Military Plane at Pilcaniyeu Uranium Enrichment Plant'

    In this memorandum, General Director for Nuclear and Disarmament Affairs Adolfo Saracho reports on a Brazilian airplane's flight over the uranium enrichment plant at Pilcaniyeu.

  • October 29, 1985

    Memorandum from Foreign Minister Olavo Setúbal to President Sarney, 'Brazil-Argentina. Cooperation on Nuclear Energy'

    The document presents the proposal to create an Argentina-Brazil working group to discuss nuclear energy.