Brazil is holding military exercises along its Atlantic coast with the deployment of 10.000 troops from the three services to ensure the country can protect its nuclear plants and massive offshore oil industry.
“The high command of the Atlantic II Operation is elaborating a report to test our capacities to protect the nuclear plant at Angra dos Reis (close to Rio do Janeiro) and the crude reserves”, said Defence minister Nelson Jobim.
However Jobim acknowledged that Brazil’s defence deployment capability is limited and expects to have shortfalls corrected “in the coming months”.
Currently “we can’t be involved in large scale night operations to protect our critical infrastructure” and “we don’t have anti submarine missiles to attack those who threaten our oil rigs along the coast”, added Jobim.
The Defence minister made the statements with some members of the press invited to watch the display of the military exercise along different coastal locations which ends next Friday.
Brazil’s oil and gas production is mainly off-shore with huge deposits running parallel to its coastline. Brazil is currently self-sufficient in oil consumption and is poised to become one of the world’s ten leading exporters once the sub-salt deposits begin to be developed.
With this in mind Brazilian president Lula da Silva in 2008 launched the new National Defence Strategy which emphasizes a strong military presence for the protection of the Atlantic coast and the Amazon basin.
In related news minister Jobim also stated that he favoured the development of a strong domestic satellite industry to help monitor the country’s vast frontiers and coast line.
During the 62nd annual meeting of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science, SBPC, held in Rio Grande do Norte Jobim said that the country needs to develop a space industry which is not a single generation challenge.
“The construction and development of satellites and satellite technology is not for a single generation of Brazilians to address, it must be an ongoing commitment”, he emphasized.
Currently Brazil has two satellites in orbit: one shared with China which takes pictures of the Earth’s geography and another for environmental and climate data collection, such as rainfall and the fluvial system capacity.
“For Brazil and its armed forces it has become strategic to have a geo-stationary satellite to control our air space”, said Jobim.
The Defence minister also talked about Brazilian interests in Antarctica.
“Contrary to Argentina and Chile we don’t have territorial aspirations but yes, we are very much interested in continuing with scientific research in Antarctica”.