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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 08, 1985

BRAZILIAN MINISTRY OF FOREIGN RELATIONS, 'INFORMATION FOR THE MEETING ON NUCLEAR ISSUES WITH ARGENTINE AUTHORITIES'

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    Information for a meeting between José Sarney and Raul Alfonsín and as a guide to the joint declaration on the peaceful character of nuclear programs and for the creation of a working group to promote cooperation between the two countries. Itamaraty recognized Argentina’s achievements in the nuclear realm. The last two paragraphs suggests the rejection of a possible Argentine proposal to create a system of mutual inspections.
    "Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations, 'Information for the Meeting on Nuclear Issues with Argentine Authorities'," November 08, 1985, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AHMRE. Critical Oral History Conference on the Argentine-Brazilian Nuclear Cooperation, Rio de Janeiro, March 2012. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/123367
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Information for the Meeting about Nuclear Affairs with Argentine officials, preparatory conference for the Presidential Meeting in Foz do Iguaçu on November 1985.

As suggested in the Information Note number 198 issued on 10/29/85, approved by Mr. President of the Republic, a joint statement reinforcing the peaceful purpose of the Brazilian and Argentine nuclear programs and the creation of a political, diplomatic and technical working group to support the cooperation set in the 1980 agreement shall be proposed to the Argentine party.

2. On the understandings to be reached with the Argentine party and in order to establish a negotiable position from the abovementioned instructions, the following comments must be made:

3. The results already achieved by the Argentines on nuclear affairs may give them more power than us in such a negotiation. Argentina has two working nuclear power plants, the oldest since 1974, and evidence suggests they have mastered the uranium enrichment technology when Pilcanyeu power plant was built. If they have not achieved it yet, they are closer than Brazil to have complete mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle.

4. At the same time, Brazil and Argentina suffer external pressure to accept international control over their nuclear facilities. Contrary to that, the radical Alfonsín administration has strongly defended the traditional independence of its nuclear program, broadly supported by domestic public opinion and militants of the Justicialist Party. However, continuing this program – whose debt with RFA’s banks is currently around 1.8 billion dollars – will implicate in preserving only a minimum contact with foreign sources of credit, and even of nuclear technology and material.

5. All these circumstances together – a more developed program and the need to be closer to supplying countries, obviously, without excluding domestic motivations, for instance more legislative control over the nuclear program – may push the Argentines to seek concrete results in the negotiations with Brazil.

6. We can suppose so based on recent Argentine behavior regarding nuclear diplomatic issues. President Alfonsín has indeed showed special interest in this matter, having signed with presidents from Mexico and Tanzania, and Greek, Indian and Swedish Prime Ministers last January a document called “Delhi Declaration”, addressed to nuclear powers. Brazil should pay special attention to the Argentine proposal made earlier this year to create a regional mutual control mechanism through reciprocal visits.

7. In the prep meeting, thus, it is highly probable that the Argentine party will propose the adoption of joint initiatives in the presidential meeting, whose content and scope shall meet Brazilian initiatives, such as a joint statement and the creation of a working meeting.

8. In reference to the joint statement, the Brazilian and Argentine common positions on nuclear affairs would, theoretically, ease the negotiations of a document that shall be based on condemning the proliferation of nuclear weapons and both countries’ unrestricted right to have complete access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

9. With respect to the joint working group, the Brazilian party could save this suggestion at first so it can be used as a counter<proposal if the Argentines try to develop the idea presented by president Alfonsín to establish a system of regional visits – which is highly likely. The concreteness of a specific working group to support relations can counterbalance any Argentine objective proposal, which we may want to avoid for being inopportune.

10. To reinforce the Brazilian counter<proposal, if this action is deemed necessary, we may argue that the announcement of negotiations for a system of reciprocal visits would inconveniently bring even more external pressure, which, together with international and domestic public opinions, may limit both countries’ actions on the matter. The American mission that went to India and Pakistan last September and tried to force them to negotiate nuclear affairs is an example of our concerns.

DEM, 11/08/85

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