Cablegate: Ambassador's Call On Defense Minister Viegas, 8

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2014



1. (C) Summary. In a courtesy call on 8 September with
Ambassador, Defense Minister Jose Viegas expressed
enthusiastic satisfaction with Department responses to GOB
suggestions for revisions in the stalled 2000 bilateral
Technology Safeguards Agreement on possible U.S.
participation in commercial space launches at Brazil's
Alcantara facility. Viegas believes the governments are
close to consensus on a revised text. Viegas was also
grateful and optimistic regarding successful conclusion of a
bilateral understanding on Brazil's lethal force air bridge
denial program. Viegas opined that it could take Brazil
"some years" to work through issues and sign onto the IAEA
Additional Protocol on non-proliferation safeguards (a view
not/not reinforced by FM Amorim in later conversation with
the Ambassador, per reftel; Department please see also action
request on this issue in para 8). Viegas also said he
expects President Lula da Silva to announce a decision in
Brazil's new fighter acquisition program in a few weeks'
time. End summary.

2. (C) Viegas greeted Ambassador warmly in a small meeting in
the minister's office (Viegas was accompanied by one senior
advisor, Ambassador by POL Counselor) and directly embarked
on a review of the following issues:

Alcantara Technology Safeguards Agreement:

3. (C) Viegas said that he is "delighted" with the content of
a USG nonpaper providing the Department's reactions to
GOB-proposed revisions in the Alcantara TSA (signed by both
governments in 2000 to facilitate U.S. firms' participation
in commercial space launches from Brazil's Alcantara facility
but stalled in ratification in Brazil's congress owing to
concerns the accord impinges on Brazilian "sovereignty").
Viegas said the two remaining areas of difference between the
governments as reflected in the nonpaper -- relating to
access for USG personnel to accident sites and the need for
conclusion of TSA's by Brazil with other users of the
facility -- appear to him to be easily resolvable. Viegas
said he would the USG nonpaper to Brazilian experts and
informally approach contacts in congress to assure a
favorable environment when a revised text is resubmitted for
ratification. Viegas expressed his deep appreciation for USG
willingness to revisit the Alcantara issue, calling it an
"important symbol" of good will toward Brazil on the USG's
part. Viegas also reiterated that the GOB will join the
International Code of Conduct on Ballistic Missiles (ICOC),
which has been the main USG request to the GOB in the context
of re-opening the TSA text for revisions.

"Shootdown" Issue

4. (C) Viegas said his staff would provide the USG asap with
its final input to the draft texts for diplomatic notes and
addenda that will serve as the basis for memorializing the
governments' mutual understanding of Brazil's lethal force
interdiction program for aerial narcotrafficking, scheduled
for implementation in October. Viegas implied that the MOD
was prepared to accept virtually all of the USG's recommended
final revisions to the texts. (Note: Viegas' staff provided
the comments to Pol Counselor on 10 September, which were
forwarded to Department WHA/BSC via email on the same date.
End note.) Ambassador and Pol Counselor noted that the
Department is preparing the Memorandum of Justification (MOJ)
recommending a Presidential Determination waiving liability
under U.S. law as related to Brazil's program. The formal
exchange of the diplomatic notes will be the final bilateral
step before the MOJ is sent to the President for decision,
they added.

Additional Protocol

5. (C) The minister then raised the question of Brazil's
adhering to the Additional Protocol to the NPT. Viegas said
that the GOB would likely sign on to the AP, but that the
process of deliberation could require "some years."
Ambassador voiced surprise that a decision could take so
long. Viegas elaborated that Brazil occupies a unique
"niche" among suppliers in terms of its technological
development, which it wants to protect while still finding
ways to cooperate with inspection. He also said that any
suggestion that Brazil belongs in the same company as North
Korea and Iran is anathema for the GOB, given Brazil's strong
non-proliferation credential. Ambassador rejoined that it is
just those exemplary credentials which make Brazil an
important model for others. Viegas replied that Brazil
deserves to be granted patience and consideration as it works
through decisions on the AP. (Comment: Viegas' assertion
that it could require years for Brazil to sign the AP was
not/not echoed in a subsequent meeting between Ambassador and
Foreign Minister Amorim, per reftel. Amorim said Brazil
needed to work through a number of issues regarding the AP,
but he seemed surprised when Ambassador noted Viegas's
comment, and did not affirm it as a GOB position. End

FX Program

6. (C) Responding to a query from Ambassador on the status of
Brazil's F-X new fighter selection competition, Viegas said
that the MOD has completed its technical evaluation and
referred the decision to the President. Viegas said that
Presidency Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu had told Viegas to
expect a decision "soon," and Viegas opined the decision
could be announced "in a few weeks." Viegas did not offer
further comment, except to note that the Lockheed Martin
offer for the F-16 Block 50 was regarded by some in the
Brazilian Air Force as "lacking" in its offset proposals, and
also there remained a question of "the weapons not following
the plane" -- an apparent allusion to continuing questions
in the BRAF about the availability of the AMRAAM BVR missile
system. When POL Counselor noted to Viegas that the USG had
fully cleared sale of the AMRAAM to Brazil two years ago,
Viegas seemed puzzled and asked that POL Counselor contact
the Brazilian air force to discuss the issue.

South America

7. (C) In closing, Viegas noted that the GOB's guiding
strategic interest in South America is "stability." He
assured Ambassador that all GOB regional military policies --
whether bilateral information sharing initiatives with
neighboring countries or possible defense-industrial
cooperation projects -- were intended to promote stability,
and this should be seen as complementary of, not competitive
with, USG policies. Ambassador replied that Brazilian
leadership in regional security initiatives is welcomed and
encouraged in Washington.

8. (C) Comment. Viegas was upbeat, speaking gratefully and
enthusiastically about bilateral progress on both the
Alcantara agreement and the shootdown issue. Clearly he
views both of these as close to successful resolutions --
welcome developments for the GOB and feathers in Viegas' own
cap. His remarks on the Additional Protocol and the FX
program are, on the other hand, puzzling. On the AP, the
impression is that Viegas does not entirely master the issue
(e.g., he seems to mix in his mind the questions of AP
adherence and Brazil's ongoing negotiations with the IAEA for
inspections at Brazil's Rezende facility which, while
thematically related, are technically separate questions).
Hence we would be cautious about taking his comments as
definitive GOB positions, and are inclined to believe that FM
Amorim's views, as expressed in reftel, are more
authoritative. Action request: Given the current lack of
precision and clarity on Brazil's official position on the AP
issue, we will continue to query senior GOB officials about
the evolution of their views at every opportunity. We also
ask that Department engage with Ambassador Abdenur regarding
Brazil's position.

9. (C) Comment continued. On the FX and AMRAAM, it is
bewildering to us that, at this late stage, the minister of
defense does not understand from his air force that the
AMRAAM system has been approved for Brazil for some time. We
intend to explore this quietly with air force contacts.


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