Going Nuclear: Brazil and India

Reports over the past year have indicated that Brazil and India are well on the way to becoming full-fledged members of those nations who maintain nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Brazil is currently developing the technology to build a nuclear-powered submarine and to use the knowledge gained in this endeavor to construct nuclear weapons. India, having taken possession of a Soviet supplied nuclear powered submarine only in January 1988, is in the process of displacing over 100,000 people in the Balasore region of Orissa province to build a test range for its internally developed ballistic missiles.

By Phil Smith-Eivemark, Subir Guin

The Brazilian National Security Council, the armed forces agency, controls a budget in the U.S. $3 billion range. In August 1987, the Brazilian press reported that the military had constructed an underground test site in the Serra do Cachimbo area in the Amazon basin. Brazil's "peaceful" civilian-run nuclear program, under the restrictions of the International Energy Agency safeguards, has been the subject of massive funding cuts because of the country's poor economic condition. However, the military sponsored nuclear program, under no outside restrictions, has what appears to be a massive budget which is not subject to any cutbacks in funding.

The Brazilian Navy and the country's nuclear energy commission (CNEN) are working on an uranium enrichment plant at the University of Sao Paulo's Institute of Nuclear and Energy Research. The goal is to produce weapons- grade uranium and plutonium 239. Also, according to an article in the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil will build a nuclear-powered submarine. Researchers at the Institute are trying to enrich uranium to 70 percent grade in order to build the proposed submarine's light water reactor.

First Brazil must gain the necessary submarine technology. The Brazilian Navy, under a licensing agreement with a West German submarine manufacturer, has selected a conventional model which approximates the specifications of a nuclear powered submarine. Rex Nazare, President of CNEN, has stated that the country will be ready to launch a nuclear powered submarine sometime after 1992. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Brazilian military officials have said that Brazil could have nuclear weapons capability by 1990.

Moreover, Brazil's Air Force is working to extend the range of their ballistic missiles to 1,200 kilometers. Once Brazil is able to manufacturer its own nuclear warheads, it will join that select group of nations that are able to deliver nuclear warheads to distant targets via strategic ballistic missiles.

JANUARY 1988, INDIA TOOK POSSESSION of a Charlie- class nuclear-powered attack submarine from the Soviet Union. Indian crews will train on it to operate this type of vessel with the view of adding such submarines to India's naval forces. Janes's Defence Weekly estimates that the first nuclear powered sub in the Indian navy will become operational by 1991 or 1992.

As well, India is in the process of displacing a large number of people in Orissa province to construct a ballistic missile testing range. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) states that India is already testing a missile which can deliver a one-ton payload 240 kilometers. India may test a longer ranged ballistic missile this year. Unlike Brazil, where there appears to be little internal dissent concerning its nuclear developments, India is experiencing considerable opposition from the province of Orissa and the people of Balasore in particular. The central government has imposed a number of restrictions on the local residents in an attempt to relocate them.

These nuclear developments in Brazil and India will upset the balance of power in both South America and the Indian subcontinent. Argentina, Brazil's chief rival for power in South America, has a highly developed nuclear technology. It is questionable, given the past history of rivalry in the area, that Argentina will allow its neighbor to develop nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles without moving to develop its own nuclear weapons capabilities. Pakistan, India's chief rival, has been in the process of developing a nuclear weapons capability for some time. Indeed, some experts believe that Pakistan already has the capability to produce up to three nuclear warheads annually. While the superpowers seem to be beginning to control their nuclear arms, the Third World, lead by Brazil and India, appear to be fostering a new race toward nuclear madness. p

Smith-Eivemark and Guin are Associate Editors of PEACE Magazine.

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1988

Peace Magazine Apr-May 1988, page 8. Some rights reserved.

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