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Cablegate: Brazil,S Military Partnership with France: True

VZCZCXRO3342
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0643/01 1341900
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131900Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1633
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0364
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0385
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 8031
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 6149
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2054
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0018
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 000643

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/BSC, EUR/WE AND PM/RSAT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2018
TAGS: PREL PARM BR MASS
SUBJECT: BRAZIL,S MILITARY PARTNERSHIP WITH FRANCE: TRUE
LOVE OR A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE?

Classified By: Ambassador Clifford Sobel

1. (C) SUMMARY. The recent meeting of Presidents Lula and
Sarkozy and the visit of Defense Minister Jobim to Paris
triggered a wave of Francophilia within the Brazilian foreign
policy establishment, particularly with regard to the
strategic partnership. Despite heavy coverage in the press
of the Brasilia-Paris &strategic alliance,8 concrete
examples of potential cooperation are sparse beyond the
signing of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). France
reportedly may assist Brazilian construction of a
nuclear-powered submarine through a promised &technology
transfer,8 although French diplomats here say no agreements
were signed. In Mission,s view, elements of the Brazilian
leadership believe they share broad interests with France,
particularly France,s perceived tendency to stand up to the
USG, but there is little substance at present to the
ballyhooed security partnership. The Brazil-France
relationship can, however, set some useful precedents as we
try to improve our own political military ties with Brazil.
The public and press hype for the French connection
notwithstanding, the result of Jobim's trip may be more a
marriage blanc than amour veritable. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The February 12 meeting in French Guiana between
Presidents Lula and Sarkozy and the visit of Defense Minister
Jobim to Paris at the end of January led to widespread
enthusiastic reporting on a new &strategic alliance8
focusing on access to French technologies for Brazilian
military modernization and including the signing of a SOFA
between the two countries. An announcement that Brazil will
buy French Scorpene submarines, possibly for use in
developing an indigenous nuclear submarine, provided the only
other possible result. Apart from this, potential
cooperation between Brazil and France has been limited to
speculative discussions of potential transfers of
helicopters, aircraft and satellite systems. Folha de Sao
Paulo quoted government sources as stating that the success
of Jobim,s visit to Paris &sharpened the appetite8 of the
U.S. and Germany to make sales, but that such interest had
come too late.

3. (C) In meetings with Ambassador Sobel, Jobim has
downplayed the relationship with France and clearly stated a
desire for access to U.S. military technologies. He has,
however, encountered resistance from the Ministry for
External Relations (MRE). Jobim,s plan to visit Washington
in January was blocked by objections that he should visit
Brazil,s neighbors first. Such objections did not prevent
his visiting France (technically a neighbor through French
Guiana) or Russia (in Mission,s view, not a neighbor at
all); in bowing out of Jobim's trip to Washington, Long Term
Planning Minister Unger told the Ambassador that visiting
France and Russia carried no connotation of subservience to a
greater power, which a trip to the United States will
suggest, he fears, if not handled properly. That said,
Jobim understands that while a partnership with France is
more attractive politically, there is more to be gained by
working closely with the U.S.

4. (C) The principal deliverable of Jobim,s visit to
France, the SOFA, was in the works for two years and had
stalled on Brazilian insistence that any SOFA would violate
Brazilian law, a similar objection to that raised against a
Brazil-U.S. SOFA. When asked why this was no longer an
obstacle, Jobim,s Chief of Staff, Murilo Marques Barboza
told polmil officer and DATT that the draft SOFA had been
written so as to avoid such an objection. The French Embassy
informed Mission that the text is based on a standard NATO
SOFA. Indeed, the text posted on the Ministry,s website
contains basic legal understandings that each side will
follow its own laws and build in similar language to that
found in the draft U.S.-Brazil Defense Cooperation Agreement.


5. (C) The other major result of Jobim,s trip was the
announcement that Brazil will purchase French Scorpene diesel
electric submarines. The MOD has encouraged the view that
these vessels will further Brazilian ambitions to construct
an indigenous nuclear sub even though naval experts state
that there are considerable differences in design between

BRASILIA 00000643 002 OF 003


conventional and nuclear vessels that would seem to preclude
such a connection. The nuclear-powered submarine is one of
the Brazilian military,s highest priorities (ref a), and the
promise of French technology proved tempting enough for
Brazil to switch its conventional sub purchases from Germany
to France. The Brazilian government has not, however,
disclosed what technologies it will obtain from France, and
the French DCM in Brasilia told PolCouns that no agreements
for weapons purchases or technology transfer were signed. As
yet, the Scorpene purchase is the only specific system that
Brazil has stated it will purchase, and it does not represent
a transfer of new technology not already present in Brazil,s
German-design submarines, merely (in the words of a U.S.
naval expert) a switch from the underwater equivalent of
Mercedes to Peugeot. Although French diplomats here share
our skepticism with regard to the likelihood of Brazil
developing a nuclear capability any time soon, they see
Brazil's interest as a possible opportunity for sales and for
developing a stronger relationship. Nonetheless, they say
that Itamaraty continues to obstruct their efforts to work
with other ministries (as Itamaraty does with us) and that a
suggestion of joint efforts on the border between French
Guiana and Brazil was rejected. On March 11, the MOD again
announced Brazil's intention to purchase submarines and
helicopters from France, as well as seek help on nuclear
propulsion but as yet has not officially announced Minister
Jobim's March 18-22 trip to Washington.

6. (C) In discussions with MOD contacts, Brazil,s highest
priority in making decisions about purchase of defense
equipment will be technology transfer. Brazil not only seeks
to improve its military capabilities but to revive its
defense industries which were perceived as producing
significant exports during the Cold War period. Minister
Unger has citied France,s perceived greater openness to
technology transfer as an advantage of a closer partnership.
While French technology transfer policy officially complies
with the EU Code of Conduct and is similar to U.S. policy
guidelines, the perception is that the U.S. is seen as much
more restrictive.

7. (C) In a recent conversation with U.S. MLO, a Brazilian
Air Force officer said that he believed that Air Force
leadership would prefer that Brazil,s next generation
fighter be the F-35, but that politics and a more aggressive
French sales approach gave the advantage to the French
Rafale, &an aircraft nobody wants.8 He cited MRE
perceptions of U.S. &rigidity of rules and regulations8 as
the obstacle. To articulate their view of the difficulty of
U.S. technology transfer policies, Brazilians frequently cite
the USG refusal to allow the sale of Brazilian-made Super
Tucano aircraft to Venezuela. While this was not a
technology transfer question, opponents of cooperation with
the U.S. have been unchallenged when they cite it as evidence
that the U.S. will oppose technology transfers to Brazil.
Foreign Ministry Special Advisor Marcos Pinta Gama expressed
a similar view, saying that while the U.S. and Brazilian
militaries have good relations and Brazil would prefer to
work with the U.S. on its force modernization, the perception
in Brasilia is that French equipment, even though less
capable, would be easier to acquire. Pinta Gama also cited
supposed French willingness to allow Brazilian licensed
production of military items as an advantage of doing
business with France.

8. (C) EMBASSY COMMENT. The chief value of Brazil,s
opening to France may ultimately be in the precedent it sets
for international security cooperation. The Brazilian
military understands that beyond sales of equipment that it
views as second-rate, France does not have much to offer.
Following up on Jobim,s visit to Washington presents an
opportunity to make a case for stronger U.S.-Brazil
engagement. The Minister and his advisors would prefer U.S.
partnership for Brazil,s military modernization, but face
the assumption that U.S. export controls are too restrictive.
Accurate briefings on U.S. arms transfer policies, with
information on the success of technology sharing with partner
states can overcome Brazilian preconceptions and promote
greater openness to U.S. military systems. While to some
extent, Brazil wants to use French competition as leverage on
U.S. policy, as noted in reftel, there is a real opportunity

BRASILIA 00000643 003 OF 003


to use Brazilian defense restructuring to advance the
bilateral relationship. The French relationship may also
pave the way to other bilateral cooperation. Until Jobim
went to Paris, Brazil had balked at discussion of a SOFA.
Now, with the agreement with France under his belt, Jobim has
indicated a willingness to discuss a SOFA with the U.S. as
well as a General Security of Information Agreement (GSOIA).
There is no reason for the USG to buy into the picture
presented by the press in Brazil, which often suggests that
defense cooperation with France and the U.S. is an either-or
choice. While the GOB finds ties to France more politically
acceptable, we can benefit from this interest, which may set
precedents for U.S.-Brazilian interactions of greater
substance.
SOBEL

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