Brazil's vice president says his country should develop nuclear weapons.

Jose Alencar says "a nuclear weapon has great importance" to prevent attacks on Brazil because of its extensive borders and maritime holdings. Alencar tells Brazilian newspapers that Brazil doesn't have a program to develop nuclear weapons, but should.

Alencar's influence is relatively limited and he is not a member of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's party. Brazilian officials insist they are developing nuclear energy only for peaceful means.

Alencar aide Adriano Silva confirms the comments published Friday by newspapers including O Globo and O Estado de Sao Paulo. He says they are personal opinions and not a position of the government.