Argentina and Brazil commemorated on Monday the thirtieth anniversary of the creation of the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, which was signed on 18 July 1991, with the exclusive purpose of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
?The agency was created with the unwavering commitment to peace and security, through the Guadalajara Accord, by which Argentina and Brazil gave up the development, production and acquisition and use of nuclear arms, opening the path for the consolidation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a region of peace and the first zone in the world free of nuclear weapons?, said Felipe Sola Argentine foreign minister who flew to Brasilia for the special occasion.
?This agency is a world model and an enormous responsibility. In 1991 many determining factors were involved: the political decision, strategic consciousness, vision of the future and the most difficult word, trust. For any statesman or politician, trust is crucial, with mistrust nothing can be built, and nothing grows?, added Sola
Further on the minister underlined the pioneers’ vision of the future, ?men and women who started to work in the eighties and anticipated a joint future, the potential of uniting, what an Argentine/Brazilian unity meant, following years of mistrust in times of military dictatorships. It is true we are also undergoing tough times now, but so it was in 1991, times economically and politically difficult for both countries. And then it was proven that with unity all is possible; it’s hard for dreams to not come true when unity, it’s difficult uniting but it has great rewards later on?
On mentioning the pride of having the ABACC agency Sola quoted a few lines on unity from the iconic gaucho poem book Martin Fierro written by Jose Hernandez, ?Brothers be united. Because that is the first law. Have a real unity, at any time be it. Because if they fight among them, those outside will devour them?.
Sola travelled to Brasilia with the Science and Technology minister Roberto Salvarezza, foreign ministry cabinet chief Justo Chaves, president of the Nuclear regulatory authority, Agustin Arbor and the head of International Security, Nuclear and Space affairs, Gabriela Martinic.
Hosts were Brazilian foreign minister Carlos Alberto Franca; Mines and Energy minister Bento Albuquerque; Science and Technology minister Marcos Pontes, among other top officials.
During the ceremony, messages were read from UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and the chair of the Organization for the banning of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, OPANAL, Flavio Roberto Bonzanini. The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi also sent a congratulatory message.
It must be remembered that for most of the first half of the XXth century Argentina and Brazil disputed the leadership of South America, and in the forties, under president Juan Domingo Peron consolidated that handicap by contracting some WW2 German scientists who helped set up the foundations of atomic studies and industry in Argentina. The Brazilian military was always trying to catch up but was unable.
However by the eighties, Brazil had become a global industrial power while Argentina stagnated, and besides committed the stupidity of invading the Falklands. Even after the 1982 conflict, the Argentine military continued to test 500 miles + missiles, and Brazil even attempted a minor unsuccessful underground atomic test.
Under pressure from the rest of Latin America, led by Mexico, and the atomic powers’ club, both countries aspirations had to be dismantled, finally giving birth to ABACC, whose principal mission is, according to its charter, “to guarantee Argentina, Brazil, and the international community that all the existing nuclear materials and facilities in the two countries are being used for exclusively peaceful purposes. The objective of ABACC is to administer and apply the Common System of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (SCCC), whose aim is to verify that the nuclear materials in all the nuclear activities of the two countries do not deviate towards nuclear weapons”.
Since then Brazil has continued to prosper as one of the world’s eight leading economies, turning Argentina into Brazil-dependent particularly under the Kirchners. Both countries have also atomic energy incorporated into their power grids, (anywhere between 3 and5%) with the construction of several nuclear plants.
But there is a bright side to the story, with trust hovering bilaterally, the two countries that same year, 1991, set the foundations for the trade bloc Mercosur, and invited other countries to join, Uruguay and Paraguay.