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April 4, 1984

Memorandum, Minister Saraiva Guerreiro, Information for the President of Brazil, 'Brazil-PRC. Nuclear Energy'

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)




No. 102

Data: 4 de abril de 1984

Assunto: Brasil-RPC. Energia nuclear


In a joint evaluation made by Itamaraty, CNEN, NUCLEBRÁS and representatives of SG/CSN, about the present relations of Brazil with the Popular Republic of China in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, it was considered that these relations can be expanded in order to make them more compatible with the potential of both countries in this sector. In fact, during the visit to the PRC by a Brazilian mission headed by the President of CNEN, in December 1882, to agree on the purchase by Brazil of enriched uranium from the Chinese Nuclear Industry Corporation, the Chinese interest in developing more cooperation with Brazil in the nuclear field was noted. Until now, however, such cooperation is limited to the above mentioned purchase of uranium, whose dispatch to Brazil should take place promptly.


2.   The Chinese interest in nuclear cooperation with Brazil had already been expressed on the occasion of my visit to that country in March 1882. More recently, during the visit to Brazil of Minister Quian Zhingyang, of Hidro resources and Electric Power, the possibility of exchanges between the two countries in the nuclear area was again broached.


3.     From the Brazilian viewpoint, an intensification of contacts with the PRC on nuclear research and industry might facilitate the rise of opportunities in different sectors. In the commercial field, for instance, there would be the possibility for Brazil to provide project engineering services in the program of reactor construction of the PRC (in the area of supply of equipment the possibilities would be lesser, in view of the industrial capacity already achieved by that country). The specific situation of the PRC as a non-member of the NPT, who maintains a singular position at the international level, independent from the well-known international political systems of control in the nuclear field, is of course the other aspect, perhaps the main one,to be taken into consideration with a view to an intensification of bilateral relations in the nuclear field. The supply of enriched uranium we obtained from the PRC, without the requirements usually made by other suppliers with regard to controls of the “full scope safeguards” kind, indicates the Chinese willingness to keep with Brazil a cooperation that does not run counter to the sovereign character of our nuclear policy.


4.     I must also observe that the PRC has been assuming an increasingly prominent role in the international nuclear energy panorama. In this sense, it has just joined the International Atomic Energy Agency, and should become in a short while a member of the Board of Governors of that organization. Another relevant fact are the negotiations it is presently holding with the United States to reach an agreement in the nuclear field. Chinese authorities, however, have reiterated their country’s position that adherence to the IAEA does not mean any change in its stance against the horizontal non-proliferation regime foreseen in the NPT.


5.      Finally, in the above mentioned evaluation made by Itamaraty together with the othes agencies responsible for the nuclear sector, it was thought that to enter with and agreement with the PRC at this time might contribute to an expansion of the cooperation between the two countries in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Such an agreement, whose objective would be a better definition of the areas and ways of cooperation, would be based on the conventions signed by Brazil in the nuclear field with other developing ciuntries, especially those that are not members of the NPT. The cooperation envisaged would cover, in that case, basically the field of reactor research and development, the nuclear fuel cycle, the production of materials and nuclar safety, among others.


6.      If Your Excellency agrees, we might sound out the Chinese side about its willingness in concluding with us an agreement along the lines indicated above. For that end we would present a draft agreementto be examined by the Chinese authorities. Depending on their reaction, we might even work toward the signature of such an agreement within the scope of the visit that you will shortly make to the PRC.


(Signed) Ramiro Saraiva Guerrairo

               Mnister of State of External Relations.         


Memo from Foreign Minister Saraiva Guerreiro to President João Batista Figueiredo on the current state of, and potential for the future of nuclear cooperation with China, in the follow-up to the presidential visit to Beijing. Guerreiro recalls that, since China was also not a party to the NPT, nuclear cooperation and purchase of material, like the uranium acquired in 1982, would not be subjected to full-scope safeguards, preserving the “sovereignty of Brazil’s nuclear program.” Guerreiro mentions a study by the National Security Council, the Nuclear Commission, Nuclebrás and the Foreign Ministry on the commercial and technological potential for an agreement with China, similar to the ones that Brazil had already signed with “other developing countries, namely those that are not members of the NPT.” One such agreement, Guerreiro suggests, could be signed during President Figueiredo’s upcoming visit to Beijing.

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Obtained and translated by Fundação Getúlio Vargas.


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