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U.N. allowed to see part of Brazil's nuclear plans

Paraphrased by
Steve Waldrop
April 8, 2004

Brazilian officials recently agreed to allow the United Nations to monitor uranium-enrichment plants in their country but would not allow them to have access to all equipment because that would compromise industrial secrets.

The foreign minister of Brazil challenged other nuclear powers to respect the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,which asks them to enter into negotiations to elimate all nuclear weapons.

"Brazil has complied in an exemplary manner," Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said. "This has not been true of the nuclear powers who are not meeting their obligation in accord with article 6 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."

Carlos Bezerril, technical director for Brazilian Nuclear Industries, denied reports that Brazil was stonewalling inspectors. He said the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency was already installing cameras in the facility.

Bezerril said the inspectors don't have to see the centrifuges because "they have the means to know the level of uranium we're enriching. Even without seeing anything, they have equipment that can detect everything." He said only the centrifuges, which purify uranium ore for use in nuclear power plants or in weapons, would remain off-limits for visual inspection.

U.N. nuclear inspectors were denied access to the centrifuges in February and March of this year.

International inspectors want to verify whether Brazil is enriching uranium solely for use at its nuclear power plants or whether it will process weapons-grade uranium in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which Brazil has signed.

Brazil has not signed the so-called additional protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which authorizes spot inspections.

He said Brazil would offer guarantees that its nuclear research and activity were exclusively for peaceful ends. But the country also wants the ability to research and develop cheap energy.

Brazil expects to begin enriching uranium this year and will use it to fuel the country's two nuclear plants, the government says.

Brazil has the world's sixth largest uranium reserves.