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Brazil Needs Nukes, VP Says

(Sep. 28) -Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar, shown in 2007, called Friday for his country to develop a nuclear deterrent (Evaristo Sa/Getty Images). (Sep. 28) -Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar, shown in 2007, called Friday for his country to develop a nuclear deterrent (Evaristo Sa/Getty Images).

Nuclear weapons would be a boon to the security of Brazil, the South American nation's vice president said in an interview published Friday (see GSN, July 22).

Brazil now has no nuclear-weapon production effort, but "we have to advance on that," said Vice President Jose Alencar.

"The nuclear weapon, used as an instrument of deterrence, is of great importance for a country that has 15,000 kilometers of border to the west and a territorial sea" that contains oil reserves, said Alencar, a former defense minister who does not belong to the ruling party of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

Under its constitution, Brazil is barred from possessing nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported. The nation is also a signatory to the 1988 treaty that established a nuclear weapon-free zone in Latin America (see GSN, Sept. 10).

Alencar's "comments do not reflect the position of the government," according to a presidential spokesman. Current Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said last month that Brazil was not seeking nuclear weapons.

Brazil has not conducted nuclear-weapon work during the last 25 years of civilian leadership, said University of Brasilia political analyst David Fleischer. The nation has a nuclear power program, though, and intends to deploy a nuclear-powered submarine (Marco Sibaja, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, Sept. 25).

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