France to help Brazil build nuclear submarine

September 23rd, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, Sep 23 (RIA Novosti) France will help Brazil build a nuclear-powered submarine to protect vast oil reserves off its coast, the Brazilian defence minister said Tuesday. Speaking during a large-scale military exercise involving the army, navy and air force, along the Brazilian coast, Nelson Jobim said France will transfer technology to Brazil for building a nuclear submarine.

“We will build the nuclear submarine together. Brazil will be responsible for the conventional part of the project,” he said.

According to the minister, Brazil and France discussed the technology transfer in January at talks in France, and an agreement could be signed before the end of this year during the official visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Brazil.

Brazil hopes to have the vessel built by 2020 and become the first Latin American nation to possess a nuclear-powered submarine. The deal would also include the joint construction of four diesel-powered submarines.

Brazil and Argentina are the only Latin American countries with significant nuclear capabilities.

The Brazilian military, which has five conventionally powered submarines in service with the navy, has been seeking to build a nuclear submarine for decades amid worries over the security of its offshore oil reserves.

The ongoing war games codenamed Operation Atlantic is aimed at thwarting a simulated attack on Brazilian oil drilling facilities. The exercise involves 20 ships, several submarines, 9,000 troops and 50 aircraft.

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