Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque has given an interview to a Brazilian news agency, O Estado de S. Paulo, that the country intends to restart uranium mining by the end of this year as part of a resurrected nuclear program, according to the Rio Times.
The official reason for pursuing nuclear technology is to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and to expand their civilian nuclear power production. Nuclear power is a comparatively clean option compared to fossil fuels and it enjoys far greater and more consistent power generation than other “green energy” options. Its reputation has suffered from high-profile public failures to maintain control of the energies released in the process.
The concern for the U.S. has been, not with nuclear power, but with nuclear arms. By including military applications within their stated goals, those concerns are again being raised.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Brazil had a secret program to develop nuclear weapons. This happened during the period of the military dictatorship… a time which Jair Bolsonaro, the current President of Brazil, has regularly and openly praised.
Brazil’s political stance has shifted greatly through successive leaders, often maintaining their strongest international ties with countries openly antagonistic to the United States.
Their leadership has recently been seeking a strong alliance with the United States, or at least a strong relationship with the President, Donald Trump. An attempt to place the two Presidents’ respective sons as official ambassadors to each others’ country is reported to have failed due to insufficient support from the Brazilian legislature.
Independent of the current relationship between the United States and other countries, the official position of the U.S. has been to minimize the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Historically, having the largest country in South America restart a military nuclear program, even if it is officially only doing so in the name of propulsion, would be a matter requiring a swift response.
With a policy of American retreat from international influence and our abandonment of stated allies, we are inviting other nations to ramp up their own defenses, including nuclear arms. This seems particularly unwise when those countries have been regularly run by governments hostile to the United States, and when they are situated very close to America’s shoreline.