The origins of nuclear cooperation

A Critical Oral History Between Argentina and Brazil.
Thirty years ago, the governments of Argentina and Brazil revolutionized the international relations of South America by averting a competitive spiral in the field of nuclear-technology acquisition. As they faced three consecutive crises – the dispute over the Itaipu dam, Argentina’s announcement of its uranium-enrichment capabilities, and the revelations of the Cachimbo shafts in Brazil – presidents José Sarney (Brazil) and Raúl Alfonsín (Argentina) took a leap of faith by deciding to trust one another.
Rather than intensify their competition by investing more in acquiring sensitive nuclear technologies, they built an unprecedented system for confidence building. Through calculated personal gestures and symbolism, they promoted fast-paced rapprochement between their countries. In the process they faced uncertainty, the risk of failure, and some resistance at home. Together, however, they avoided a potential escalation with serious geopolitical implications.

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