Brazilian Sub Fleet to Go Nuclear

Brazil has nuclear reactors. They can turn out nuclear fuel using existing enrichment facilities. They even have a "fleet" of five submarines. What they don’t have is a nuclear powered sub. But, thanks to France, all that may be about to change.

Why does Brazil want a nuclear sub anyway? Perhaps to protect them from the pirates of Costa Rica? Or to stave off invasion from Hugo Chávez of Venezuela?

Whatever the reason, it must be pretty good. They’ve been at it since 1979 and just last year Brazilian President Lula announced $540 million in new funding for the program (and for improving existing uranium enrichment efforts).

Over half a billion dollars! Just to go chasing a nuke dream. I’m glad they don’t need that money for anything important, like cleaning up the vast "favelas" (shanty towns) that sprawl next to every major Brazilian city. [Some 3 million people live in the Rio de Janeiro slums alone, a city where murder claimed an average of 80 victims a week last year.]

Maybe a sub that can go under the ice cap will intimidate the drug lords that rule the favelas with impunity. Maybe it will inspire the police force to put a stop to rampant corruption.

And what do the French get out of it (besides a rumored $600 million for the sub, not to mention more money for any follow-up technology transfer deals)?

[Defense Ministry spokesman Jose] Ramos said Brazil wants to establish a strategic partnership with France to transfer technology. France is interested in Brazilian know-how on jungle warfare and "the use of electronic equipment in the humidity of tropical rain forests," he said.

Yeah, that "jungle warfare" will no doubt come in handy when the next time France needs to quell riots that are spreading across the country.

Posted January 28th, 2008 Filed in International