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Viewing cable 09BRASILIA201, KEY BRAZILIAN NUCLEAR OFFICIAL DISCUSSES POSSIBLE WAY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BRASILIA201 2009-02-17 18:06 2011-01-16 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brasilia
VZCZCXRO4627
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0201/01 0481840
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171840Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3575
INFO RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0138
RUEHII/VIENNA IAEA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCNNSG/NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 6097
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 9107
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 7293
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 3559
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//SCJ2-I/J5/HSE/DIA REP//
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000201 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2019 
TAGS: ENRG IAEA KNNP TRGY ETTC AR BR
SUBJECT: KEY BRAZILIAN NUCLEAR OFFICIAL DISCUSSES POSSIBLE WAY 
FORWARD ON IAEA ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL ISSUE

REF: (A) 2008 RIO DE JANEIRO 0295, (B) BRASILIA 34

Classified By: Ambassador Sobel, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. On February 4, Othon Pinheiro, Director-President of Eletrobras Termonuclear S.A., briefed the Ambassador on a new concept for indirect monitoring rather than intrusive inspections as a way to provide the IAEA with assurances about the nature of Brazil's nuclear activities. This would be in lieu of an Additional Protocol. He had raised this with the Ministry of External Relations (MRE) last year, and the Ambassador raised it with Defense Minister Nelson Jobim on February 5. Both were non-committal, though neither rejected the idea outright.

COMMENT. If Washington agrees, then the upcoming visit to Brazil of IAEA Director General El Baradei could be an opportunity to try to explore this possible path forward. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) At a meeting with the Ambassador on February 4, Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, Director-President of Eletrobras Termonuclear S.A. (who completed a 30-plus year career in the Brazilian Navy as an admiral), outlined his thoughts on how to provide the international community assurances about Brazil's nuclear activities without agreeing to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol. The Ambassador had requested this meeting when at the end of a meeting on February 2 to discuss U.S. industry interest in Brazil's civilian nuclear expansion plans Pinheiro had brought up his new concept. Pinheiro is sometimes called the new "nuclear energy czar" in Brazil, though he downplayed his role, describing himself as just one of various actors in the circle of decisionmakers. He emphasized the importance in this field of the Civilian Cabinet Minister Dilma Rousseff, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, Minister of Mines and Energy Edson Lobao, and Minister of Science and Technology Sergio Resende, as well as Ambassador Andre Amado, the Ministry of External Relations' (MRE) Under Secretary equivalent for Energy and Technology. Further, the National Commission on Nuclear Energy (CNEN), Industrias Nucleares Brasileiras (INB) and Eletrobras were critical entities with regards to building and operating nuclear power plants.

BACKGROUND ON HOW WE GOT WHERE WE ARE

3. (C) Pinheiro provided his take on how Brazil reached the current position with regard to an IAEA Additional Protocol. Prior to 1997, the Government of Brazil (GOB) had refused to sign on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because they viewed it as asymmetrical and unfair in its treatment of nuclear weapons states and the others. He characterized the view then as the NPT was a tool for the nuclear weapons states to suppress the other countries. Then President Fernando Henrique Cardoso came to power and he signed the NPT and obtained Congressional approval. Earlier, both Brazil and Argentina ended their clandestine weapons programs, restored democratic rule, and created in 1991 the Argentine-Brazilian Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). In 1997, Brazil, Argentina, ABACC and the IAEA concluded the Quadpartite Agreement that still governs their relationship. ABACCC allowed regular inspections of Brazilian and Argentine declared sites to provide both countries assurances on their nuclear activities.

4. (C) Now Brazil faces calls that it agree to an IAEA Additional Protocol with its more intrusive inspection regime. Pinheiro claimed that the Brazilian constitution prohibits allowing such inspections, which could be made anywhere and not just at declared sites. He did not provide details with respect to this contention that an Additional Protocol would violate the constitution. (NOTE. MRE's Director of the Division on Disarmament and Sensitive Technologies Santiago Mourao told UNVIE Amb. Greg Schulte in October 2008 that he did not see a technical problem with Brazil signing an intrusive Additional Protocol; however, there were difficulties of a political nature. Similarly, key figures in the nuclear energy sector in Rio de Janeiro saw no technical reason precluding Brazil signing such an agreement (REFTEL A). END NOTE.) Pinheiro was quick to add that he did not see any interest in Brazil to move towards nuclear proliferation.

A POSSIBLE WAY FORWARD?

5. (C) Pinheiro had been thinking about the matter of providing assurances to the international community without having intrusive inspections. He commented that besides violating the Brazilian constitution, the intrusive inspections called for by an Additional Protocol actually could lead to nuclear proliferation as the many inspectors involved from different countries would be able to see and learn highly-sensitive and dangerous technologies. He said that the way forward would be to have monitoring indirectly through sensors. These sensors would detect the presence of nuclear material, he confidently explained. Fissile material is hard to hide undetected, he said. The particles given off by nuclear material are very difficult to block and so off-site monitoring can be an effective tool, he explained. Thus, the monitoring would not be intrusive, no inspectors would be physically entering undeclared sites, though they would still "visit" declared sites. Pinheiro said he had consulted with a colleague of his at ABACC, an inspector named Dr. Carlos Feu (strictly protect), and they thought this system would give reasonable assurance of no unauthorized working with or diversions of nuclear materials.

6. (C) Pinheiro said he had raised this concept with officials in the MRE last year, saying it might be an alternative way to go. He encouraged them to talk with Dr. Feu of ABACC. The MRE officials neither approved of the concept nor disapproved it. He added that it might be more difficult to advance the concept since the release in December of the new National Defense Strategy (REFTEL B), which calls for the GOB not to agree to any new restrictions on nuclear energy until others comply with their obligations (read - the nuclear weapons powers make progress on disarming).

NON-COMMITTAL DEFENSE MINISTER - NO FAN OF THE IAEA

7. (C) At a meeting on February 5 with Defense Minister Jobim (who is clearly a pivotal figure on nuclear issues), the Ambassador brought up his discussion the day before with Pinheiro. He asked Jobim whether this idea might be a way to proceed forward with the IAEA. Jobim thought it was interesting, but was non-committal. Also, the Ambassador inquired about who else within the GOB would move on this issue. Jobim responded that any discussion of these issues should go through him exclusively, and "not through MRE."

8. (C) The topic of the IAEA did lead Jobim to launch into a criticism of that agency, saying that in a recent incident they had overreached. In that case, the IAEA had wanted to interview a Brazilian scientist because he had written about how to produce nuclear weapons, apparently as an academic think piece. Jobim was dismayed to find that the Ministry of External Relations had actually been helpful to the IAEA in trying to set up a meeting with the scientist. He declared that he became engaged and put an end to allowing any interrogation of the scientist by IAEA inspectors.

PINHEIRO - A PRACTICAL PERSON WITH PRACTICAL ADVICE

9. (C) As he repeatedly underscored, Pinheiro is first and foremost an engineer. He looks for practical solutions. This was exemplified in how he developed a way for IAEA inspectors to visit Brazilian sites, while at the same time protecting confidential information. In that instance, he introduced the use of material to cover parts of the equipment, but allowing enough to be viewed by the inspectors to accomplish their task. He said that then IAEA Director General Hans Blix had liked the idea. "We can make things transparent and still keep secrets," Pinheiro stated.

10. (C) Pinheiro advised that Brazil needed to be treated like Japan, Germany and other developed countries, and not like Iraq and Iran as countries trying to develop nuclear weapons. Any agreement with the IAEA for additional oversight / monitoring / inspection would have to entail a different way of inspecting.

COMMENT

11. (C) Pinheiro offers an interesting concept on how to proceed forward with providing assurances to the international community about Brazil's nuclear activities while addressing their concerns about intrusiveness. The tepid responses - though not rejections - from MRE and the Defense Ministry mean that more groundwork needs to be done in Brazil, Vienna, and Washington would be required if there is interest in moving the concept to the next stage. The upcoming visit of IAEA Director General El Baradei could be a good opportunity to try to explore this possibility further. END COMMENT. 

SOBEL