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[RIO DE JANEIRO] The new Brazilian minister of science and technology, Sergio Rezende, expects Brazil to be able to export enriched uranium for energy production in ten years.

He announced last week (August 8) that the government will invest an as-yet undetermined amount in enriching uranium so the country can become an exporter, joining Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Niger and Uzbekistan on the international market.

Brazil has the world's sixth largest reserve of uranium, more than enough to supply its own needs in the long run, according to the country's government.

Rezende says these resources are strategically important, since the world's oil reserves are shrinking.

"I am convinced of the Brazilian need to dominate the enrichment process," said Rezende last week. "Energy is essential for the future. This market is necessary and attractive and Brazil has the conditions to attend it. We have the know-how and will use it for peaceful purposes." 

At the end of 2004, the International Atomic Energy Agency authorised Brazil to enrich uranium at five per cent  — enough to generate energy, but not sufficient to create atomic weapons  (see Brazilian nuclear negotiations could set precedent).

The minister emphasised that the country has no intention of building an atomic bomb and will not export uranium to countries that have this aim. "Brazil has a clear position against the arms race," he said.

In order to export uranium, the country will have to make changes in its constitution, which at present forbids the export of nuclear material.