Brazilian Defence minister Nelson Jobim announced Monday an agreement with France for the construction of a nuclear submarine. Jobim said France would help build a yard in Rio do Janeiro for the assembling of four conventional Scorpone submarines and one nuclear powered.
The announcement coincides with President Nicholas Sarkozy two-day visit to Brazil in his double role as EU rotating president and leader of France. "In twenty years time we will be receiving the nuclear submarine with full technology transfer and with Brazilian engineers trained in French factories and yards" said Minister Jobim. The Brazilian navy has been working for almost three decades in the development of a nuclear powered submarine. The purpose of the submarine is to patrol the coastline between the cities of Santos, Sao Paulo's main port and Brazil's largest and Vitoria in the state of Espirito Santo, an area where in 2007 was discovered an oil and gas basin estimated to hold reserves equivalent to 50 billion barrels. Jobim said the yard in Rio do Janeiro will be privately built and managed and twenty years later will be handed over to the government. Defence issues are top of the agenda of Tuesday's bilateral meetings between presidents Sarkozy and Lula da Silva. On Monday both leaders also met but in the framework of the EU-Brazil summit. Besides submarines the Brasilia-Paris agreement includes 50 helicopters for which Brazil is expected to pay 1.9 billion US dollars, revealed Jobim. At the beginning of the year Minister Jobim travelled to Paris to begin talks on a strategic agreement in defence issues, which was later advanced during a bilateral meeting of Lula da Silva and Sarkozy at the French Guyana. Lula da Silva said on Monday that Brazil's defence industry "had been dismantled and must be reorganized. It's a long term project, not something to be achieved in two days or two years". The recovery and reactivation of Brazil's defence industry with French technology is one of the goals of Brazil's Strategic Defence Plan which was presented last week. "A country with the dimension of Brazil, which has discovered huge oil reserves, that must defend its Amazon, must have a defence strategy, not thinking about war, but thinking of guaranteeing and protecting its patrimony", said Lula da Silva.