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A Shortcut to Autonomy or a Path to Dependency? Foreign Assistance and Brazil’s Search for Nuclear Autonomy


How did foreign assistance influence Brazil’s path to attaining nuclear autonomy? To answer this question, a technopolitics hypothesis centred on the role played by national scientific and technological strategies will be discussed, focusing on two case studies: the history of the Thorium Group (1965-71) and the 1975 Brazil-West Germany nuclear agreement. In both instances, Brazilian policy-makers relied on imported technologies as shortcuts to implement nuclear projects without designing a coordinated plan that involved national scientific programmes and research centres. The Brazilian case highlights the limits of initiatives aimed at attaining nuclear autonomy that revolve only around foreign assistance without complementary investment in national scientific initiatives.
Keywords: Brazil; science & technology; nuclear autonomy; foreign assistance