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23 October 2004

Brazil and Nuclear Energy

Brazil Reacts Angrily to Report on Nukes

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil on Friday denounced a U.S. magazine report saying Brazil's uranium enrichment plant will give it the potential to build nuclear warheads. In its latest issue, Science magazine said that Brazil's uranium enrichment plant in Resende, about 60 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, will be able to refine enough uranium to build up to six nuclear warheads. The report said that at its "announced capacity" the plant will be able to enrich enough uranium "to make five to six implosion-type warheads per year. By 2010, as capacity rises, it could make enough every year for 26 to 31 and by 2014 enough for 53 to 63."

But the president of Brazil's National Nuclear Energy Commission, Odair Dias Goncalves, called the magazine's arguments "frivolous." "They can only be the result of misinformation or motivated by shadowy interests," he said. "Both motives are incompatible with the tradition of such a prestigious magazine like Science." The magazine report, "Brazil's Nuclear Puzzle," was written by two writers from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Goncalves said the Resende plant was designed to enrich uranium to low levels for fuel to generate nuclear power plants. For nuclear warheads, he said, the uranium has to be enriched to 90 percent, "and we simply do not have the technology for that."

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