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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 21, 1985

MEMORANDUM, INFORMATION FOR THE PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL, NO. 011/85 FROM THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, STRUCTURE OF THE PARALLEL NUCLEAR PROGRAM

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

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    This top-secret document describes the secret parallel nuclear—or autonomous—program. The program resulted from the common effort of the three Branches of the Armed Forces—the Army, Navy and Air Force, plus CNEN and IPEN—under the coordination of the National Security Council. The objective was “to develop national competence to create conditions for wide-ranging use of nuclear energy, including naval propulsion and the production of nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes.
    "Memorandum, Information for the President of Brazil, No. 011/85 from the National Security Council, Structure of the Parallel Nuclear Program," February 21, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Obtained and translated by Fundação Getúlio Vargas. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116917
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E.M.       no. 011/85                                                                         February 21 1985

YOUR EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

I have the honor to submit to your high consideration a proposed guideline for the autonomous projects in the nuclear field.

2. According to your orders, several projects of interest to national security were conducted under the supervision of SG/CSN.

3. The right to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as a support to our technological autonomy and prospects of progress for the whole of Latin America is the basic foundation of the National Nuclear Energy Policy.

4. The evolution of the international conjuncture led to the need of seeking the conquest of our own technology which, in the last analysis, is essential to the autonomy desired by any country. This effort, unleashed in the seventies, was intensified in the beginning of the eighties as increasingly severe restrictions were established in the panorama of international bilateral and multilateral relations. Such restrictions generated all kinds of obstacles, initially of a technical nature and later on exhibiting ostensive political motivations, with repercussions in the economic field. Such obstacles not only put into doubt the free access to sensitive technologies but also bring in unilateral changes a posteriori in existing agreements.

5. Because of these difficulties to develop independent technology, it became necessary not only to put in place an appropriate management structure but also to conduct the necessary activities under a high degree of secrecy.

6. The strategy for the creation of that technology was based on an association, under supervision of the General Secretariat of the National Security Council, among the technical areas of the Ministry of the Navy, Ministry of the Army, Ministry of Aeronautics and the National Nuclear Energy Commission, as well as other institutions technically linked to  CNEN such as the Institute of Nuclear and Energy Research (IPEN). The strategy aimed at creating ample technical conditions for all peaceful applications of nuclear energy based on national availabilities, our own will and without the limitations of the international conjuncture. With this association it was possible to achieve maximum utilization of existing facilities and the involvement of a considerable part of the Brazilian scientific community, represented by engineers, researchers and technicians.

7. To attain the set objective, it was necessary to develop proprietary technology, attuned to the national conditions, to permit the mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of irradiated material. The results achieved permitted the development of fully national nuclear facilities, in different scales.

8. The strategy put into practice, of association of CNEN with the military Ministries, under the supervision of the SG/CSN, took into consideration the respect for our external commitments, the evolution of the international political conjuncture and the instability of the nuclear fuel market.

9. Therefore, the anticipation of the desired results lead us to present to Your Excellency the following proposal, with a view to registering the direction followed until now, in order to permit the continuance of the activities considered:

a) to maintain the association, supervised by the SG/CSN, among the technical areas of the Ministries of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and CNEN and IPEN.

b) to ensure, where necessary, the appropriate secrecy;

c) to work to ensure compatibility between the activities undertaken and the international commitments assumed by Brazil;

d)  to create the necessary conditions to assure for the Nation the complete and independent mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and all its forms of application.

10. In order to be achieved, the tasks involved would be distributed in the following manner:

a. Objectives of the Autonomous Projects

       1) General

        To develop industrial competence that creates conditions for a wide ranging use of nuclear energy, also allowing for naval propulsion and the production of nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes.

        2) Specific

              a) Solimões (to be carried out by by the Ministry of Aeronautics)

                 1) Development of the technology of uranium enrichment by laser.

                2) Development of nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes and enriched uranium.

              b) Ciclone (to be carried out by the Ministry of the Navy)

                     Development of uranium enrichment technology by the centrifuge process and construction of the demonstration plant.

              c) Remo (to be carried out by the Ministry of the Navy)

                     Development of the technology of naval propulsion with a view to the construction of nuclear submarines.

               d) Atlantic (to be carried out by the Ministry of the Army)

                    1) Development of the technology of nuclear pure graphite, with the objective of manufacturing moderators for natural uranium reactors.

                    2) Construction of a reactor of small dimensions with natural uranium and graphite, with plutonium production capacity.

                 e) Procon (to be carried out by CNEN)

                     Production of uranium compounds (natural and enriched) needed for the other projects.

                   f) Celeste (to be carried out by CNEN)

                      Fuel reprocessing for the production of plutonium

                   g) Metallurgy (to be carried out by CNEN)

                          Preparation of metallic uranium and mastery of the technology necessary for its applications.

                    h) Radiometric and environmental control of facilities and areas (to be carried out by CNEN)

                   i) Manufacture of electronic equipment and special materials (to be carried out by CNEN)     

11. From the above it is necessary to stress – within the basic foundation of the National Nuclear Energy Policy – the firm intention of utilizing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes so as to widen the prospects of progress for the whole of Latin America.

12.  It being so, I have the honor to submit to Your Excellency, for examination, as a proposed guideline to be followed in order to ensure the continuance of the autonomous projects, the one that has been observed until now.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew the assurances of my deepest respect.

 (Signed) Danilo Venturini – Minister of State – Secretary General of the National Security Council.