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Authors: de Sa, Andrea
Advisors: Von Hippel, Frank
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: Brazil’s rise as a political and economic power has received significant media attention in recent years. International observers predict that Brazil will emerge as a regional superpower and as a significant player on the world stage in the 21 century. Equally important but less discussed is Brazil’s role as a nuclear-capable, but nuclear-weapon-free country. Non-proliferation advocates are suspicious of Brazil’s military ambitions and push for more severe restrictions on its nuclear program. Brazil’s leaders, on the other hand, argue that Brazil is an exemplar in non-proliferation efforts and see remilitarization and nuclear development as stepping-stones to well-deserved influence on the world stage. This contention is best illustrated in the country’s efforts to develop nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs). This thesis has two parts. The first seeks to establish the first comprehensive historical account of Brazil’s nuclear program in the English language—paying particular attention to the Navy’s pursuit of SSNs. Drawing from official government documents, investigative reports, memoirs, history books, and personal interviews, the first four chapters describe the chronology of the program in four distinct phases: its modest beginnings, evolution under the military regime, its descent into secrecy, and developments since democratization. While I strive to provide as many historical details as possible, many matters discussed in this thesis remain classified by the Brazilian government. When necessary, I highlight the resulting ambiguities and controversies. The second part of the thesis discusses the technical and legal complications facing Brazil’s nuclear submarine program and examines how Brazilian SSNs may affect international non-proliferation institutions like the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Brazil stands as the first non-nuclear weapons state to test what many consider a dangerous “loophole” in NPT safeguards arrangements. I argue that Brazil is positioned to set responsible precedents for the implementation of safeguards agreements for naval fuel cycles. This issue has grown increasingly relevant, as countries like Iran have expressed aspirations to develop indigenous fuel cycles and nuclear submarine forces. After discussing various considerations for US foreign policy, I conclude with recommendations for how to adapt existing non-proliferation institutions to close the NPT “loophole.” This thesis draws heavily from my research in Brazil, where I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview some of the key figures in the history of Brazil’s nuclear program. Where possible, the thesis examines Brazilian intentions, ideologies, and perspectives in the context of historical events— many of which may be unfamiliar to a US readership. In so doing, it hopes to clarify some misunderstandings and disagreements between Washington and Brasília.
Extent: 135 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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