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US, Brazil negotiate use of Alcântara launch base

The deal does not breach Brazil’s sovereignty

Published in 05/06/2018 - 16:08

By Paola de Orte Washington

The US government agreed to start negotiating a deal on technological safeguards with Brazil for the use of the Alcântara launch base. The information was confirmed today (Jun 4) by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes, after he met with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.

The US State Department, which is expected to conduct the talks, needed permission from US agencies to deal with the topic with Brazil. Now, the two countries are set to formally start negotiations that could lead to the commercial use of the base, located in the northeastern state of Maranhão.

No date has been estimated for the dealings to be brought to a close. Brazil Ambassador to the US Sergio Amaral is to meet with his US counterpart to talk about the topic this week.

Alcântara/MA - O presidente Michel Temer visita o Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara, no Maranhão (Marcos Corrêa/PR)
President Michel Temer and ministers visit the Alcântara Launch Center – Marcos Corrêa/PR/Collection

Favorable position

A large number of countries could be interested in using the Alcântara base due to its favorable geographic position near the Equator, which makes it possible to save fuel for satellite launches, for instance.

Under former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil sought to forge a deal with the US to make the commercial use of the base available to other countries. The agreement is necessary as the US owns most of the technology used in the construction and launch of satellites.

The Brazilian Congress, however, barred the deal from taking effect, as the country argued it breached Brazilian sovereignty by protecting US technological secrets. A pact on safeguards would mean that other countries could use the base without being granted access to US technology.

The current agreement does not violate Brazilian sovereignty, the minister argued. “If you don’t have an agreement that guarantees the intellectual property of the rockets and satellites that will be launched, no satellite and no rocket will be launched, because most launches have US technology in them,” he went on to note. Nunes added that the US government wants “the defense of its commercial secrets—which is legitimate.”

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira Edition: Fábio Massalli / José Romildo

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