Brazil mulls nuclear agency as stepping stone to OECD membership

Source:Reuters Published: 2019/11/12 22:28:40

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (center) speaks during the delivery of the economic reform package to the National Congress in Brasilia on Tuesday. The government unveiled a bundle of wide-ranging reforms, aimed at cutting spending and reducing the size of the state to drive down its chronic fiscal deficit. Photo: AFP

Brazil is considering joining the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a specialized agency within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which could serve as a stepping stone to joining the club of rich nations, its head said.

NEA Director-General William Magwood said the membership of the agency, which groups 33 countries with 85 percent of the world's nuclear power capacity, is straightforward and based on mutual interest in sharing state-of-the-art nuclear technology.

"Membership can happen very quickly and that means it is a very practical stepping stone toward OECD membership," Magwood said in an interview last week.

He said South Korea used that path in the 1970s and, more recently, Argentina joined the agency in 2017 with the intention that it would help its pending bid for OECD membership.

"They are certainly talking about it, it is something the Brazilian government is looking at," Magwood said at the end of a visit to Brazil during which he visited the country's unfinished Angra 3 reactor.

Brazil had expected to join the OECD quickly with the backing that US President Donald Trump offered President Jair Bolsonaro in March, but in October Trump said Argentina had US endorsement to join first, dashing Brazil's hopes.

Membership of the NEA largely overlaps with the OECD, except for three exceptions: Russia, Romania and Argentina.

Magwood said Brazil was doing the right thing in completing its mothballed third nuclear reactor, Angra 3, on the coast south of Rio de Janeiro, despite the price tag to finish the job, which is estimated at some 15 billion reais ($3.7 billion).

Brazil's state nuclear power company Eletronuclear is looking for a partner for Angra 3 and has narrowed the field to China's National Nuclear Corp, France's EDF or Russia's Rosatom.

"It is such a huge investment that it makes sense to go ahead and finish that plant, but beyond that Brazil should start looking at new technologies," Magwood said.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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