Asan Plenum

Transparency and Confidence Building in a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone: The Case of Argentina and Brazil

The Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) is an agency created by the governments of Brazil and Argentina, responsible for verifying the peaceful use of nuclear energy in both countries. The establishment of ABACC and the `Common System of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials` (SCCC) – a safeguards verification system – is the outcome of a confidence building process and transparency conducted by the leaders of Argentina and Brazil. This endeavor constitutes a unique contribution to peaceful nuclear energy and to non-proliferation and disarmament. In mid 80s’ Argentina and Brazil leaders were led by the conviction of the importance to deepen the integration process between the two countries and the significance of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes for the scientific, technological, economic and social development of their people. By means of Presidential Joint Declarations and reciprocal visits to their most sensitive nuclear facilities, both countries reaffirmed their decision to provide mutual transparency to their nuclear programs. This process led to the establishment of bilateral safeguards to control and verify their nuclear activities. During the 90s, Latin America approached the solution of pending issues in the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. Argentina and Brazil contributed in a determining way to the process for its full enforcement. The successful application of the SCCC for almost twenty years in an atmosphere of cooperation between the countries, ABACC and the IAEA in implementing international full scope safeguards, confirm the effective contribution to peace and security of this initiative.

A retrospective look of all these years of success as well as the recent decision of the governments of Argentina and Brazil to reinforce their nuclear integration process, show the added value of this initiative to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to enhancing their technological cooperation and integration. The process that led to this scheme and its architecture reflect a high-level policy of openness of the two countries in a sensitive technological field which could serve as an example for other regions.