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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 08, 1974

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM FROM THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL TO THE PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Secretary-General of the National Security Council send the president of Brazil a report on attempts to establishing nuclear cooperation with Argentina in the period 1968-1974. In July 1974, on the occasion of the visit of a delegation from the Superior War College to the Argentine Atucha nuclear plant, its director, engineer Cosentino, proposed a cooperation agreement between the two countries with the objective of defusing concerns of the international community about a possible Brazil-Argentina rivalry. Despite the cautious reception of the Argentine proposal by the National Security Council, which also pointed out its possible advantages, President Geisel, in a manuscript note, said that there were several pending issues to be resolved before the establishment of nuclear cooperation between Brasília and Buenos Aires would become possible.
    "Explanatory Memorandum from the National Security Council to the President of Brazil," September 08, 1974, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CPDOC Archives, Antonio Azeredo da Silveira, AAS 1974.09.11. Obtained and translated by Fundação Getúlio Vargas. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116853
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Brasilia-DF

8th of September, 1974

Explanatory memorandum no 062/74

Mr. President

I have the honor of informing your Excellency about report no 0169, SECRET, dated 18th of July, 1974, written by the Ministry of Foreign Relations which refers to Brazilian -Argentinian cooperation in the utilization of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

In relation to this matter, I, the Secretary-General, have verified that:

In accordance with the objectives determined by the national policy directives on nuclear energy, BRAZIL has forged with various countries mutual cooperation agreements over the utilization of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.On September 14th 1967, his Excellency, the President of the Republic, approved a study by this Secretary-General that, based on the considerations of Itamaraty and CNEN, is hereby proposed:“To authorize the initiation of preliminary discussions, which have the intention of beginning the process of formal negotiations, to afterwards firm with ARGENTINA a mutual cooperation agreement for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

•  Later on, in 1968, while  representatives from the Argentinian Commission of Atomic Energy were visiting BRAZIL they were given a preliminary mutual cooperation agreement over the utilization of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, based on the terms of a similar agreement between that country and SPAIN.

Even though the negotiations had been preceded first by contact with Argentinian nuclear authorities, and they initially showed receptiveness,  in the end there was no great interest on their side to deepen their understanding of this deal so that an agreement could be forgedBy 1970, the Ministry of Foreign Relations, judging that the political situation would favor the reinitiation of negotiations, returned to the subject, submitting to the president a new preliminary mutual cooperation agreement.This Secretary-General, after carefully considering the matter, and hearing the Minister of Mines and Energy’s opinion, elaborated the explanatory memorandum No087/70, on November 19th, 1970, approved by the President, which contained the following conclusions:“The preliminary agreement, that has earned the approval of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, is undeniably very important to our National Security.The reinitiation of negotiations should be preceded by the same precautions that were taken the last time, in relation to the Argentinian authorities, from the first project of the nuclear agreement. ”

•  For cyclical reasons, related as well to other areas of interest, we did not reach an agreement, and the possibility of signing the agreement in question ceased to be discussed, officially, until this day.

Recently, during a visit from students from the Brazilian War College to the nuclear plant ATUCHA, the Director of this installation expressed a technical interest in a mutual exchange of information with Brazil a position defended by other Argentinean scientists as well, through the press, that has come to occupy a prominent place in the field of applied nuclear energy of that country.

With the document of Origen, Itamaraty, bearing in mind the statement from the director of ATUCHA, returned to the subject, pointing out that, “it might be convenient, especially politically, to eventually form a deal or understanding between our two countries in this field, insofar as such a deal or understanding could, without risk to national security plans in that sector, end the malignant exploitation that is happening in certain international circles about a race between two countries to fabricate a “bomb.”  This kind of exploitation would only be disadvantageous to us, if it affected the cooperation that other countries could provide.”  Consequently, the situation suggests the initiation of a discrete dialog on this matter, through diplomatic channels, with the Argentinian government.

When consulted regarding this matter, the Ministry of Mines and Energy pronounced itself in favor, highlighting that, “from a technical point of view, it would truly be interesting and useful to exchange information and experience between our two countries”.

After studying the matter, this Secretary-General arrived at the following conclusions:

The signing of a mutual cooperation agreement for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, between BRAZIL and ARGENTINA, in principal, could be convenient to our national security interests.A deal in this sense would entail certain political advantages, insofar as that the deal, without detracting from national plans in this sector, would resolve mutual distrust, and contribute to the neutralization of certain comments coming from other countries about an eventual race between BRAZIL and ARGENTINA to obtain a nuclear artifact.From a technical standpoint, because of the different paths adopted for the first Brazilian and Argentinian reactors, it seems that they would complement one another, which could make  the exchange of information and experience rewarding for both parties.Keeping in mind the results of the two previous unsatisfactory attempts, it is advisable that the preparations continue with caution, so that it can be verified, if the pronouncements on the technical level correspond, as well, to the interests of the Argentinian government, in studying a deal of such nature.

While submitting this subject to the elevated considerations of Your Excellency, this Secretary-General would like to suggest that the Ministry of Foreign Relations be given authorization to organize, in accordance with the above mentioned conclusions, the suggested surveys and initial procedures, while keeping the Ministry of Mines and Energy as well as this Secretary-General informed on its progress.

I would also like to take the opportunity to send your Excellency my warmest regards, as an expression of my highest esteem and distinct consideration.

Lieutenant-General HUGO DE ANDRADE ABREU

Secretary-General of the National Security Council