Brazil has announced plans to beef up its nuclear capacity. President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has freed up funding for the construction of the country’s first nuclear submarine along with a third reactor plant. Growing energy demands and the trend for renationalisation among South America’s leftist nations has prompted Lula to defend nuclear energy as a solution.
Brazil developed technology for partially enriching uranium during a military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985. However, the subsequent civilian government agreed to abandon nuclear research in 1991. With some of the world’s largest reserves of uranium, Brazil could save money and become master of its own destiny by fully enriching the fuel-grade material at home.
In June, the government’s energy council revived the plan to build the country’s third nuclear reactor on the coast near Rio de Janeiro. The energy minister said at the time that this would increase the demand for nuclear fuel, making it more cost-effective to enrich uranium in Brazil.