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Brazil Says It Is Now Able to Enrich Uranium

September 05, 1987|From a Times Staff Writer

RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jose Sarney announced Friday that Brazil has developed its own technology for enriching uranium, a process possessed by only eight other countries.

Sarney said the technology will not be used to produce nuclear bombs. "Brazil's commitment to use nuclear energy for exclusively peaceful purposes is unquestionable," he said.

Currently, Brazil imports enriched uranium for its nuclear-generating plant, Angra I.

The Nuclear Energy Research Institute in Sao Paulo began developing a modified ultra-centrifuge method for enrichment that has achieved an enrichment level of 3%, which is sufficient to produce fuel for Angra I.

Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to more than 90%.

Sarney said Brazil had developed the technology without any external help under an eight-year program that had cost $37.4 million.

A plant for enriching uranium is being built at Ipero, in the state of Sao Paulo.

Rex Nazareth, president of the National Commission for Nuclear Energy, said that Brazil's great reserves of uranium will make the country one of the world's most important producers of enriched uranium.

Earlier this week, Brazil announced it would sell five tons of uranium, enriched to 0.85%, to Argentina by 1989.

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