Now, before we get started, right up front, I want you to read this, even though it’s a couple of years old:
Yes, you read that correctly, the CFR’s Foreign Policy is spotlighting the next candidates for the bomb after Iran as being Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Burma, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. Ok, fine, but as Der Spiegel also notes, Brazil, whose economy dwarfs that of neighbor Venezuela, has long mastered the entire nuclear fuel process and is in the process of building nuclear submarines. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried about Brazil reigning down nuclear destruction on our or anyone else’s heads.
But let’s look closer at this story. As the Der Spiegel article notes,
“It sounds harmless enough, but it isn’t, because the term “nuclear-powered submarines” could in fact be a cover for a nuclear weapons program. Brazil already had three secret military nuclear programs between 1975 and 1990, with each branch of its armed forces pursuing its own route. The navy’s approach proved to be the most successful: using imported high-performance centrifuges to produce highly enriched uranium from imported uranium hexafluoride, so as to be able to operate small reactors for submarines.”
So where did Brazil acquire these “imported high-performance centrifuges”? Answer: West Germany:
Now, while neither Brazil nor West Germany are known for being led by nutjobs (…er…well…), at least not the apocalyptic nutjobs in Tehran, or the People’s Paradise nutjobs in North Korea, I hope you have been paying attention to my posts about nuclear weapons, and Germany, for while the west is busily pointing the finger at China and North Korea for nuclear proliferation, we might look a little closer to cultural home.
As I’ve noted in interviews and elsewhere on this blog site, West Germany, according to the 1978 New York Times book The Nuclear Axis, was the deep hidden player in South Africa’s and Israel’s acquisition of the bomb, and as I’ve also noted, Germany builds France’s submarine launched ICBM and its thermonuclear warheads in one of those nifty Franco-German consortia that the Europeans like to do (think Airbus here). And now, Brazil’s centrifuges.
We are looking, in short, at more evidence of a de facto nuclear power in the heart of Europe, and one which, moreover, has been in the quiet forefront of nuclear proliferation.
See you on the flip side….