Argentina and Brazil: The Latin American Nuclear Rapprochement: Conclusion to the Morning Session

Dr. Ariel Levite

Let me conclude this morning’s session by trying to offer a brief summary of what I think we’ve heard this morning. This is done in order to pave the way for discussing the uniqueness of ABACC and the differences between it and the IAEA this afternoon.

It appears that the factors that made possible the nuclear rapprochement between Argentina and Brazil were as follows:

  • First and foremost, Argentina and Brazil have never been enemies to begin with and didn’t have a war for 150 years; they were rivals for hegemony, but not enemies.
  • Second, that the nuclear dimension was only one of the areas in which rapprochement had taken place. In fact, there existed the desire to attain rapprochement in other areas before addressing the nuclear issue. However, at a certain point the nuclear issue had to be included on the agenda in order to proceed with the overall rapprochement process.
  • Third, significant internal changes were taking place in both countries, namely, democratization and particularly economic reform. The letter of which was important to bringing about policy shifts in many areas including the nuclear one. Both sides began to realize the imperative of implementing economic reform to save resources.
  • Fourth, concerns of safety were another trigger to the developments. Doubts arose as a result of some incidents as to the safety of the installations.
  • Fifth, the nuclear rapprochement process was gradual, step by step, one including seminars, scientific and economic cooperation, joint work on peaceful applications of nuclear energy and related topics and so on, visits by leaders and then visits by experts—all of these preceding the agreement that ultimately evolved.
  • Sixth, the process was supported very strongly from the top by democratically-elected Presidents, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and then by the scientific community that had grown more accustomed to working together with its counterparts from the other country.
  • Seventh, and perhaps most importantly, the process was first and foremost designed to address indigenous and bilateral concerns. Once those had been addressed, the time was ripe to address regional concerns as well, and when those were addressed, the time was ripe to address the concerns of the international community as a whole. In other words there was a kind of a hierarchy there in terms of whose concerns the countries chose to address and by what order, and then appraising what had been accomplished, and as Ambassador Carasales so pointedly made clear, there was no clear conception of where Argentina and Brazil would end up at the time when they began each stage on the hierarchy.

I want to thank all of our speakers at this morning’s session.