Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Search Site

Brazil to boost troops in Amazon, weapons industry

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BRASILIA, Brazil —  Brazil will beef up troops in its vast Amazon rain forest, build nuclear and conventional submarines to protect offshore oil fields and modernize its weapons industry under a national defense plan outlined in a report Thursday.

Strategic Affairs Minister Roberto Mangabeira Unger said the plan calls for investments to modernize and equip the armed forces, create a rapid deployment force and update its weapons industry. Officials did not provide a cost estimate.

"The plan includes the restructuring of Brazil's weapons industry to guarantee the supply of defense material without depending on foreign suppliers," President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said at a ceremony to unveil the plan.

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said the government will increase the number of troops in the Amazon from 17,000 to 25,000, though he did not offer a timetable.

The report says Brazil "will develop its capacity to design and manufacture conventional and nuclear submarines" to protect its coastline, as well as recently discovered offshore oil reserves that could hold up to 55 billion barrels of oil.

"Investments will be accelerated and partnerships established to execute the nuclear submarine project," the report said.

France has promised to provide Brazil with technology to build the Scorpene diesel attack submarine, which officials hope to use to develop what would be Latin America's first nuclear-propelled sub.

Brazil's defense industry was the largest in the developing world in the mid-1980s, but it declined along with demand after the end of the Cold War.

In 1990, the country's two largest arms manufacturers, Engesa and Avibras, sought protection from creditors for debts of about US$200 million.

Brazil says any defense partnership must help the country develop its weapons industry.

"We will not simply be buyers or clients, but partners," Mangabeira said earlier this year. "Any arrangement into which we will enter must, in principle, contemplate a significant element of research and development in Brazil."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



most active