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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • January 28, 1980

    Cable on Meeting Between CNEA President Carlos Madero and Brazilian Ambassador Carlos F. Duarte

    A cable received from the Brazilian embassy in Buenos Aires, regarding the visit of Admiral Castro Madero, the president of the National Atomic Energy Commission, to Brazil. Ambassador Duarte and Madero discussed nuclear energy and the importance of an eventual cooperation agreement between Brazil and Argentina.

  • April 09, 1981

    Special Assistant for NPI, NFAC, CIA, to Resource Management Staff, Office of Program Assessment et al, 'Request for Review of Draft Paper on the Security Dimension of Non-Proliferation'

    Just a few months into President Reagan’s first term his administration wanted to make its own mark on nonproliferation policy. The report suggests building “broader bilateral relationship[s]” and offering political and security incentives could persuade states considering developing nuclear weapons to cease these efforts.

  • September 30, 1981

    Memorandum of Conversation, Brazilian Foreign Minister Guerreiro and US Secretary of State Haig

    Brazilian Foreign Minister Guerreiro and American Secretary of State Alexander Haig meet in Washington D.C. Haig illustrates a shift in American nuclear policy from that of the Carter administration to a more lenient approach.

  • July, 1982

    National Intelligence Estimate, NIE-4-82, 'Nuclear Proliferation Trends Through 1987'

    With proliferation becoming a “greater threat to US interests over the next five years,” intelligence analysts believed that the “disruptive aspect of the proliferation phenomenon will constitute the greater threat to the United States.” While the estimators saw “low potential” for terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons, the likelihood of terrorist/extortionist hoaxes was on the upswing. Significant portions of the NIE are excised, especially the estimate of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its impact in the Middle East. Nevertheless, much information remains on the countries of greatest concern: Iraq and Libya in the Near East, India and Pakistan in South Asia, Brazil and Argentina in Latin America, and the Republic of South Africa, as well as those of lesser concern: Iran, Egypt, Taiwan and the two Koreas.

  • September 01, 1982

    Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 91-2-82, 'Argentina’s Nuclear Policies in Light of the Falkland’s Defeat'

    Argentina, like its neighbor, Brazil, was determined to develop an “independent nuclear fuel cycle,” with the capacity to reprocess plutonium and enrich uranium. Also like Brazil, Argentina was one of the few Latin American countries to refuse to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Thus, Argentina’s nuclear activities were under routine scrutiny to see if they involved anything that suggested an interest in a weapons capability. US intelligence agencies continued to monitor developments but perspectives shifted as Argentina’s domestic politics evolved. Prepared after the Argentine-British conflict over the Falklands Islands, in which Washington helped London, this special estimate professed “great uncertainty” over Argentina’s nuclear intentions. While “emotionally” the Argentine military leadership was interested in a weapons option, it had “reduced capability to fulfill this desire.”

  • December 13, 1982

    Note from Brazilian Congressman Herbert Levy

    This is a letter written by Brazilian Congressman Herbert Levy which reveals the content of his meetings with high U.S. governmental officials regarding his concern about Argentina’s nuclear activities less than a year after the Falklands/Malvinas War. In these conversations, Levy states that Argentina might develop a nuclear artifact.

  • October 21, 1983

    Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 93-83, 'Brazil’s Changing Nuclear Goals: Motives and Constraints'

    Brazilian nationalism has often posed a challenge to US official precepts on the way the world should work and these estimates convey the deep Brasilia-Washington gap over nuclear policy during the 1980s. The SNIEs from 1983 and the 1985 update emphasize Brazil’s quest for technological-industrial autonomy which in nuclear terms meant developing an indigenous program to master the fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities. In seeking those objectives, Brazil did not want to face any constraints, and its leaders were unresponsive to U.S. or other pressures for safeguards on nuclear facilities.

  • January 01, 1985

    Note from Argentine Ambassador García del Solar to the Argentine Foreign Ministry

    This document reveals an encounter between a U.S. State Department official and an Argentine diplomat in Washington D.C., in which the U.S. diplomat suggests to his Argentine counterpart that the U.S. government would warmly welcome an initiative by Argentina and Brazil regarding mutual inspections as well as a declaration renouncing the right to develop peaceful nuclear explosives.

  • February 11, 1985

    Guidelines for the Autonomous Brazilian Nuclear Program

    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.

  • 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 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.

  • April 30, 1985

    Information to the Chief of DEC, 'Nuclear Energy. Brazil-Argentina Relations.'

    The document reports the Brazilian government’s concern in regard to President Alfonsín’s imminent proposal to create a mechanism of regional nuclear control in Latin America.

  • May 14, 1985

    Memorandum No 294/85 from Ambassador Saracho to the Secretary of State Jorge Sábato, 'Cooperation with Brazil on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy'

    The memo produced by the General Directory of Nuclear and Disarmament Issues of the Argentine Foreign Ministry presents a strategy in regard to Brazil in the nuclear area, considering the meetings between Dante Caputo and Olavo Setúbal between 20 and 21 May 1985 in Buenos Aires. Argentina presented the regime of mutual inspections as the most important aspect.

  • September 02, 1985

    Cable from Rafael Vazquez, Argentinian Ambassador to Brazil, Requesting Meeting with the Brazilian Foreign Minister

    In this cable to Buenos Aires, Ambassador Vazquez reports that he requested a meeting with Minister Olavo Setúbal after General Leonidas Pires Gonçalves suggested that he would support a Brazilian nuclear weapons program. Vazquez also discusses a conversation with the Brazilian Foreign Minister's chief of staff, who told Vazquez that General Leônidas Pires refuted the reports of a Brazilian atomic bomb.

  • October, 1985

    Memorandum to President Sarney, 'Brazil-Argentina. Cooperation on Nuclear Affairs.'

    An Argentine delegation proposed a joint statement on regional nuclear policy and a mutual inspection system between Brazil and Argentina.

  • October 29, 1985

    Memorandum from Foreign Minister Olavo Setúbal to President Sarney, 'Brazil-Argentina. Cooperation on Nuclear Energy'

    The document presents the proposal to create an Argentina-Brazil working group to discuss nuclear energy.

  • November 08, 1985

    Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations, 'Information for the Meeting on Nuclear Issues with Argentine Authorities'

    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.

  • December, 1985

    Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE 93-83, 'Brazil's Changing Nuclear Goals: Motives and Constraints'

    This SNIE analyzes Brazilian nuclear politics in the light of the return of civilian rule in the country after 21 years of military rule. It demonstrates a profound knowledge of the military's involvement in the nuclear program.

  • December, 1985

    Memorandum to Holders of Special National Intelligence Estimate, SNIE 93-83, 'Brazil’s Changing Nuclear Goals: Motives and Constraints'

    The SNIEs from 1983 and the 1985 update emphasize Brazil’s quest for technological-industrial autonomy which in nuclear terms meant developing an indigenous program to master the fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing capabilities. In seeking those objectives, Brazil did not want to face any constraints, and its leaders were unresponsive to US or other pressures for safeguards on nuclear facilities. According to the 1985 report the prominent role of the military in nuclear activities, “the direction of Brazil’s nuclear r&d,” and the CNEN president’s “reputation of favoring a nuclear option” posed a “danger to US interests in Brazil.”

  • August 08, 1986

    Newspaper Article, 'Serra Do Cachimbo May Be Nuclear Test Site'

    This newspaper article discusses an underground nuclear test site being built at Serra do Cachimbo for the Brazilian military and claims that production of a nuclear weapon was "already under way." President Sarney denied the report.

  • September 08, 1986

    Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, 'President Sarney and Brazil’s Nuclear Policy'

    A Directorate of Intelligence analysis, prepared in 1986, provides an interesting contrast with excisions in the NIEs on the indigenous program; it includes details on the major Navy, Air Force, and Army components of the indigenous program, including the nuclear submarine objective. As with the NIEs, the authors of this report saw no “political decision” on nuclear weapons and further noted President Sarney’s public statements against a weapons program. But a piece of political intelligence initially excised from this report suggested, rightly or wrongly, that Sarney may have been personally ambivalent.