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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Brazil 'near deal' in nuclear row
US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Brazilian Science and Technology Minister Eduardo Campos
Brazil has the world's sixth largest uranium reserves
Brazil is close to agreeing terms for UN inspections of its new nuclear facilities, despite earlier blocking them, a Brazilian minister says.

Only some technical adjustments were needed, Science and Technology Minister Eduardo Campos said.

A row broke out when the government refused International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials access to a new uranium enrichment plant.

Brazil said it was worried about possible industrial espionage.

Diplomats suggested the UN agency was annoyed, but that it did not believe Brazil was concealing weapons.


Eduardo Campos was optimistic that an agreement to allow inspectors in could be agreed, after meeting US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

"We're going to have a good accord, we just need to make some technical adjustments to accommodate the interests of the agency and protect interests in relation to technology," he said.

The Resende nuclear plant in Brazil
Security is tight at the Resende plant
Inspectors were denied access in February and March to see new Brazilian-built centrifuges at the facility, in the town of Resende.

Brazil said it needed to protect secret technology, developed by Brazilian scientists at a cost of $1bn.

Diplomats say Brazilian non-compliance could set a worrying precedent at a time when the agency is battling with the Iranian government over access to all its nuclear secrets.

"It's not a question of suspecting that Brazil has a covert nuclear weapons programme," said a diplomat speaking anonymously to the AP news agency.

"It's more a question of principle."

Brazil has the world's sixth largest uranium reserves and has had the capacity to enrich uranium since 1980.

Last October it announced that it would start producing industrially-enriched uranium in 2004 to feed its two nuclear power plants.

The country decided to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions in 1990.

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