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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 11, 1985

GUIDELINES FOR THE AUTONOMOUS BRAZILIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation

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    This document contains the main guidelines of the Brazilian Autonomous Program of Nuclear Technology, which seeks to master the necessary technologies for an autonomous nuclear program for peaceful ends. In it, one of its many components, named “Project Solimoes,” envisages the construction of peaceful nuclear devices.
    "Guidelines for the Autonomous Brazilian Nuclear Program," February 11, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Brazilian Foreign Ministry Archives https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121361
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    https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121361

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Exposição de Motivos no. 011/85                                   February 11, 1985

TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

I have the honor to submit to Your Excellency’s high consideration a proposal for guidelines for the autonomous projects in the nuclear field.

2.  Following your orders, several projects of interest to National Security were carried out under the supervision of the SG/CSN.

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

4. The evolution of the international conjuncture led to the need of a commitment to obtain our own technology which, in the last analysis, is essential to the autonomy desired by any country. This effort, launched in the middle of the 1970’s, was intensified in the beginning of the 1980’s, to the extent that ever constraining restrictions were set forth in the sphere of international relations, both bilateral and multilateral. Such restrictions created all kinds of obstacles, at first of a technical nature, later presenting overt political motivations, with repercussions in the economic area. These obstacles not only put into doubt the free access to sensitive technologies, but also introduce unilateral changes a posteriori in the scope of existing agreements.

5.  In the face of these difficulties to develop an independent technology, it was necessary not only to put together an appropriate management team but also to carry out the necessary activities at a high level of secrecy.    

6. The strategy for the creation of these technologies was based on an association, supervised by the General Secretariat of the National Security Council, among the technical areas of the Ministry of the Navy, Ministry of the Army, Ministry of the Air Force and the National Nuclear Energy Commission, as well as other institutions technically linked to the CNEN, such as the Institute of Nuclear and Energy Research (IPEN). Such strategy aimed to create broader technical conditions for all practical applications of nuclear energy based on national availability and will, without the limitations of the international conjuncture. This association made possible maximum utilization of existing facilities and the involvement of a significant part of the Brazilian scientific community represented by engineers, researchers and technicians.

7.  In order to attain the fixed objective, it was necessary to develop our own technology, adequate to the national conditions, in order to allow mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of irradiated material. The results achieved made possible the development of wholly national nuclear facilities in different scales.

8.  The chosen strategy of association between CNEN and 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 panorama and the instability of the market of nuclear fuels.

9. In these circumstances, and in advance of the desired results, we were asked to present to Your Excellency the following proposal with a view to establishing the direction followed until now, in order to permit the continuation of the activities taken into account.

a) to maintain the association, under the supervision of the SG/CSN, between the technical areas of the ministries of the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, of CNEN and IPEN.

b) to ensure the necessary secrecy wherever necessary;

c) to ensure compatibility between the activities carried out and the international commitments assumed by Brazil;

d) to create conditions to make sure that the nation will enjoy complete and independent mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle and all the forms of its application.

10.  For their attainment, the tasks involved would be shared as follows:

a) Objectives of the autonomous projects:  

1) General

To develop the national capacity to create conditions for a wide ranging use of nuclear energy that will also permit naval propulsion and the production of nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes.

2) Specific

a) Solimões (carried out by the Ministry of the Air Force)

   1) Development of the technology of laser uranium enrichment.

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

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

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

c) Remo (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) Atlântico (carried out by the Ministry of the Army)

1)  Development of the technology of production of nuclearly pure graphite with a view to the manufacture of moderators for natural uranium reactors.

2) Construction of a small reactor with natural uranium and graphite, capable of producing plutonium.

e) Procon (carried out by CNEN)

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

f) Celeste (carried out by CNEN)

Fuel reprocessing for the production of plutonium.

g) Metallurgy (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 (carried out by CNEN)

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

11. It must be stressed in what precedes – in accordance with the basic foundation of the National Nuclear Energy Policy – the firm intention to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in order to widen the prospect of progress for the whole of Latin America.

12. In these circumstances, I have the honor to submit to Your Excellency as a proposal for the guidance to be adopted to ensure the continuity of the autonomous projects, the directives followed until now.

I avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate Your Excellency, Mr. President, the assurances of my deepest respect.

(Signed)  Danilo Venturini

                 Minister of State

                  Secretary General of the National Security Council

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