Brazil Vows to Continue Space and Nuclear Programs
Space Daily reported that Brazil does not want the world to misunderstand its space or nuclear programs, because both have only peaceful and civilian objectives in mind, according to Eduardo Campos, Brazil’s Minister of Science and Technology. Since our space program was born during the years of military rule, we have to make sure that we make the transition to a fully civil program, with a focus on showing our society that it is just as important to predict the weather as it is to build a road, Campos told United Press International.
Campos also indicated that Brazil is determined to pursue development of its VLS national rocket program, despite previous failures and U.S. concerns about ballistic-missile, dual-use technology [i.e., under the MTCR]. The president has made a commitment to launch the VLS by 2006, Campos said, and it is an important program to our nation.
The United States shouldn’t have any worries about the development of the VLS. He called the United States a great partner in the development of our intellectual capital in this regard, and added that the U.S. government has technical cooperation with us in all the areas that you can imagine. They also know that Brazil has the conditions to have a program such as the VLS.
Campos said Brazilian officials currently are in discussions with the United States about a new Technology Safeguards Agreement, which would permit U.S. rockets or payloads with U.S. components – such as satellites – to be launched from Alcantara, the country’s space facility. Brazil previously had signed a TSA with the United States, but the agreement was not ratified by the Brazilian Congress when objections were raised – both in the legislature and the media – that certain restrictions included in the agreement infringed upon the country’s sovereignty. (When Brazil talks about its sovereignty, it is serious, but it also means, “We’re not going to agree to anything less than other countries are allowed to do, including the United States, China and India.”)
Campos went out of his way to emphasize that the United States and the world should also not be concerned about Brazil’s nuclear program, despite a recent dispute concerning U.N. inspections of one of the country’s uranium enrichment facilities.
Brazil’s nuclear program began in the same environment as the space program, Campos said, but later the Brazilian constitutional revision of 1989 established that it was to be a program with peaceful purposes. Brazil is one of the few nations in the world that has all of its installations – civil and military – licensed by all the international agencies.
Campos said Brazil has adhered very strongly to international, nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Last week, Brazil reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow inspections of its uranium enrichment plant outside of Rio de Janeiro, although the limited inspections will not permit access to certain areas. The limitations are meant to protect the country’s proprietary technology, according to the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology.