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Brazil And UN Come To Agreement For Nuclear Inspections

File photo of Brazil's Resende facility.
Rio De Janeiro (UPI) Nov 04, 2004
Brazil and U.N. nuclear inspectors have come to an agreement regarding inspections of a uranium processing plant, though they have yet to set a date for the visit.

Sources at the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, told Estado that the inspectors would be allowed to view most of the plant in Resende, Rio de Janeiro state, though still would not be allowed full access to the centrifuge, where the uranium is processed.

For months Brazil has been wrangling with the IAEA over inspection criteria. The agency wants full access to the plant - which under international law cannot begin refining material until it passes inspection - while Brazil insists on protecting some parts of the plant from prying eyes.

Nuclear officials here assert Brazil has developed a refinement process at least 25 percent more efficient than others and wishes to protect its homegrown technology.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil John Danilovich said Wednesday that the United States was not concerned that Brazil's uranium program was producing weapons grade refined material.

Some international observers speculated that Brazil would not allow inspectors to see its centrifuges because it was hiding its capability to refine uranium for nuclear weapons, an allegation Brazil has vehemently denied.

In October, IAEA officials came to the plant to discuss an agenda for future inspections. Brazil then agreed to show more of the Resende facility during inspections, while the IAEA reportedly gave up on its quest for unrestricted access to the entire facility, according to Odair Goncalves, president of Brazil's National Commission of Nuclear Energy.

We have lots of uranium, nothing can impede that in the future. ... We get to expand this activity and turn it really into a great commercial advantage, said Goncalves last moth, with an apparent air of confidence that Brazil would meet the U.N. standards. His comments at the time referred to Brazil's expressed desire to expand its enrichment capabilities to sell the material for energy use to other countries worldwide.

While IAEA officials said they believed Brazil's program conformed to international standards, U.N. and Brazilian officials have been at odds over the inspections for several months.

In April, Brazil was accused of refusing to allow inspectors to examine the Rio facility in February and March of this year, raising suspicions that Brazil may have had something to hide.

Brazilian officials countered by saying the inspections were unnecessary and intrusive since Brazil formally abstained from nuclear weapon development in the 1990s during the administration of then-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Earlier this year, Brazilian Defense Minister Jose Viegas - who resigned Thursday on an unrelated issue - defended the nation's right to secrecy, saying at no time did this attitude signify an impediment to the inspections.

In September the controversy was refueled when a former U.S. Defense Department official told a leading Brazilian newspaper that the reason the United Nations was interested in inspecting a new nuclear facility in Resende was speculation that the technology at the plant was supplied by former Pakistani nuclear program head Abdul Qadeer Khan, who provided nuclear technology to several rogue nations over the years.

Henry Sokolski, head of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, told Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that IAEA officials harbor concerns that the source of the (Brazilian) centrifuge technology was Kahn.

Some Brazilian scientists are outraged by the allegations that Brazil obtained the technology for its Resende plant from Pakistan.

The concerns over Brazil's nuclear intentions were first sparked in 2002, when then presidential hopeful, now Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty was unfair. If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do? he asked in a campaign speech.

These remarks quickly became infamous among diplomatic circles in Washington, though Lula later clarified his position, emphasizing that he had no intention of restarting Brazil's weapons program.

The IAEA is also worried that other nations like North Korea and Iran will see Brazil's reluctance to meet all requests as a means of concealing clandestine weapons programs.

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UN Inspects Brazilian Nuclear Plant
Rio De Janeiro (UPI) Oct 19, 2004
U.N. nuclear inspectors conducted Tuesday long-awaited and controversial reviews of a Brazilian facility for enriching uranium. The three inspectors from the United States, France and South Africa toured a plant in Resende, the Rio de Janeiro state, to observe the facility and technology Brazil is using to enrich uranium, of the low-grade variety for power generation.

Iran Parliament Approves Bill On Nukes
Tehran, Iran (UPI) Nov 1, 2004
In a move intended to strengthen Iran's position in its negotiations with the European Union next week, the Iranian Parliament Sunday approved the outlines of a bill that would force the government to resume the country's uranium enrichment program. The act is a direct challenge to the EU, which has been considering concessions if Iran agrees to abandon the program, whereas U.N. sanctions have been threatened if it does not.

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