Brazil's Vice-President Jose Alencar has said possession of nuclear weapons would enable his country to deter potential aggressors and give the South American nation greater 'respectability' on the world stage, according to a media report from Sao Paulo.
“Nuclear weapons as an instrument of deterrence are of great importance for a country that has 15,000 km of border”, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Alencar as saying while referring to the security of the country's offshore oil deposits.
Brazil's military regime (1964-1985) had a covert nuclear-weapons programme that was shut down after the restoration of democratic rule.
Besides deterrence, nuclear weapons “give more respectability”, Alencar said, citing the example of Pakistan, a poor nation that “has a seat in various international entities, precisely for having an atomic bomb”.
He also called for allocating between three and five percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to upgrade its armed forces.
The comments came after the UN Security Council passed a US-sponsored resolution aimed at stopping countries with nuclear technology from making atomic bombs and Mr. Alencar is not a man who tries to steal stage or spotlight from President Lula da Silva.
Brazil has a substantial uranium reserve and even developed the technology for uranium-enrichment. The country recently signed an agreement with France to jointly build a nuclear-powered submarine.
Alencar is not the first Brazilian politician to express concern about the security of the offshore oil deposits, while the challenges of defending the sparsely populated and resource-rich Amazon region are a regular topic of conversation in ruling circles.
According to the Brazilian media those worries have grown with Washington's decision last year to reactivate the US Navy's 4th Fleet, which patrolled the Western Hemisphere during the World War II era, and with a prospective agreement to allow US military units access to seven bases in Brazil's neighbour Colombia.