National Statement: Brazil




Washington, April 1, 2016

Dear President Obama,

Dear Heads of State and of Government and representatives of International Organizations and Special Guests,

Dear Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I congratulate President Obama for having launched, in 2010, this process of reflection on the importance of nuclear security, which led to four Summits and the adoption of national and multilateral Action Plans.

Brazil, which has been taking part in this process since its inception, recognizes the positive outcomes of this reflection, such as the enhanced visibility of the subject of nuclear security and the broad mobilization that it has ensued.

Now that the fundamental principles and the basis for increased international cooperation in this area have been laid down, we consider it important, as we move forward, that the International Atomic Energy Agency give continuity to the process. The AIEA is the only multilateral institution with expertise and experience in matters of nuclear security. It has the capacity to develop, on a global level, an organic, holistic and all-encompassing vision based on the progress that we have made through four Nuclear Security Summits.

The physical protection of nuclear materials and installations and adequate guarantees for exclusively peaceful use of nuclear technology are fundamental if we are to create a favorable environment for developing nuclear energy that benefits humanity.

Today we face the challenge of preventing the possible use of nuclear weapons and materials by non-State actors. Brazil has undertaken national and international actions with a view to countering terrorism. We condemn any act of terrorism, no matter what its pretext, and look with concern upon the possibility that acts of terrorism may be perpetrated with weapons of mass destruction.

This threat must not, however, overshadow the fact that the detonation of a nuclear device by a State would be as catastrophic and illegitimate as the use of these same weapons by non-state actors. As the UN Secretary-General has said so wisely, "there are no right hands for these wrong weapons."

Seventy years after the adoption of the first resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the threat of the extinction of humankind still weighs upon the international community. Nuclear weapons are the most lethal, indiscriminate and disproportionate devices ever created by man. They are detrimental to the most elementary foundations of international humanitarian law.

That is why our region signed, in 1967, the Tlatelolco Treaty, which established a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Latin American and Caribbean countries are proud to have created a vast region free of weapons of mass destruction, which served as an inspiration to similar initiatives in other parts of our planet.

In 1991, also in a pioneering fashion, Brazil and Argentina created the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC, in Portuguese), which allows inspectors to carry out reciprocal inspections of our countries' respective nuclear activities. Throughout its 25-year existence, ABACC has been acknowledged internationally as a model of transparency and confidence-building in the nuclear area.

Before this initiative came into being and as our 1988 Federal Constitution was being drafted, Brazilian legislators inscribed in its Article 21 the principle that "every nuclear activity in the national territory will only be admitted for peaceful uses."

Brazil will not shy away from demanding that all States fully observe the objectives of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, particularly those regarding nuclear disarmament. 

The failure of the 2015 NPT Review Conference has raised serious questions about the future of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. These hesitations aggravate the nuclear threat.

The reaffirmation of deterrence doctrines, modernization plans and long-term investments in nuclear weapons programs also serve to undermine the legitimacy of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. These trends pose serious challenges to nuclear security initiatives. The vast majority of the world’s fissile material—which could be used in nuclear weapons—is located in military facilities which are not subject to any international oversight, information-sharing or confidence-building mechanisms.

Brazil and many other countries consider it essential that we work simultaneously and with determination as we face our challenges in the nuclear area. Besides strengthening nuclear security, we also need to sustain non-proliferation efforts and make rapid progress towards nuclear disarmament, with a view to bringing about a world free of nuclear weapons, or any other weapons of mass destruction.

Guided by this spirit of an overall mitigation of the risks posed by the use of nuclear weapons, Brazil and 15 other participating countries in this Summit will adopt a Joint Declaration with a comprehensive vision of the challenges that we face in the nuclear area.

Forty-five years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force and twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, the continued existence of thousands of nuclear weapons constitutes the biggest and most immediate threat to humanity.

The complete elimination of these weapons stands as the sole absolute guarantee against their use, or threat of their use.

Thank you very much.