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Brazilian Nuclear History

Drawn from Brazilian and US government sources, this collection documents the evolution of the Brazilian nuclear program from the first proposal presented to the government in 1947, through the decision to establish a secret civilian-military program in 1978, until the end of the parallel military program in 1989. The documents are presented in collaboration with Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). (Image, Ernesto Geisel, Shigeaki Ueki, Paulo Nogueira Batista, at an exposition promoted by Nuclebrás in March 1977, Paulo Nogueira Batista Archive at FGV)

Popular Documents

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.

March 23, 1980

Report from the President of Nuclebrás Paulo Nogueira Batista to Foreign Minister Saraiva Guerreiro, 'Trip to Buenos Aires'

The document reports that the presidents of CNEN, Hervásio de Carvalho, and Nuclebrás, Paulo Nogueira Batista, had an unplanned meeting with the Argentine Foreign Minister, Pastor, which said “to consider the Brazilian-Argentine understanding [in the nuclear field] a fundamental issue for a inductive strategy of strengthening political and economic stability in the region to the extent that both countries would be in a stronger position to collaborate with their neighbors”.

May 12, 1971

Telegram, Brazilian Embassy in Bonn, 'Relations Brazil/FGR. Visit of Minister Walter Scheel.'

Communiqué from Amb. Paulo Nogueira Batista (Brazilian Embassy, Bonn) to Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Gibson Barbosa. The communiqué reports the conversation between Batista and the Vice-chancellor of West Germany, Walter Scheel (who became president in 1974), during his visit to Brazil. Recalling the existing agreement between CNEN and Jüllich Center for Nuclear Research, Nogueiras Batista mentioned Brazil’s intention to establish an ambitious international project in the realm of nuclear cooperation, which “visibly impressed the vice chancellor” (p.151). The communiqué ends with Nogueira Batista’s handwritten notes and questions concerning the capacity of the proposed plant and the possibility of a French-Brazilian-German venture.

February 23, 1978

Memorandum, Foreign Minister Azeredo da Silveira, Information for the President of Brazil, 'Nuclear Issues. Meeting at 13/02/78. Alvorada Palace.'

Report of a meeting between President Geisel and his top nuclear advisors on the eve of President Carter’s visit to Brazil and Geisel’s trip to West Germany. Issues discussed include: the delay in the construction of the Angra I, II and III nuclear plants; the unreliability of the US and Urenco (mainly due to Dutch reticence) as suppliers of nuclear fuel; the rising costs of the German deal; and the dissatisfaction with the jet nozzle enrichment technology and the possibility of renegotiating with Germany for the purchase of ultracentrifugation technology. Both Foreign Minister Silveira and President Geisel admitted the possibility of acceding to the NPT if necessary to get the technology.

February 25, 1977

Memorandum from Brazilian Foreign Minister Silveira to President Geisel, US Threats and Promises and Brazilian Responses

This memo outlines “possible American approaches” and “possible Brazilian reactions” as the US attempts to compel the Brazilians and Germans to cease their nuclear cooperation.