Macron signals support for nuclear cooperation with BrazilMacron signals support for nuclear cooperation with Brazil

On a visit to the country, the French president says he can help Defense, and talks about “more ambitious projects” in the sector. For him, Brazil and France have to speak with “firmness and strength” if they don’t want to be “lackeys” of others.

After hearing from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that Brazil wants to build a nuclear-powered submarine and develop its defense industry to be on the side of countries that want peace, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday (27/03) that his country is willing to help.

“I want us to open a chapter for new submarines,” said the Frenchman as he took part in the inauguration ceremony in Itaguaí, Rio de Janeiro, of the third of five submarines developed in partnership with the Brazilian Navy.

Macron, however, stressed that the cooperation desired by Brazil depends on guarantees for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. “If you want, France will be by your side,” the politician told Lula on the second day of his trip to Brazil.

Under the current agreement, Brazil will still build its first nuclear-powered submarine with the help of the French, the Álvaro Aberto, becoming the first country to do so besides the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France.

But the vessel’s nuclear propulsion is being designed solely by the Brazilians, and budgetary difficulties have delayed the project, which should be completed between 2036 and 2037, according to the Navy.

Brasilia has been trying to convince Paris to increase the transfer of technology to help it integrate the reactor into the submarine and allow the purchase of equipment that makes nuclear propulsion possible. France, however, has been reluctant to give in on these points.

Strong defense as a deterrent

When defending the construction of the nuclear-powered submarine for the Brazilian Navy, Lula said that the country wants to develop its defense industry to be on the side of those who want peace.

According to Lula, Brazil wants to master nuclear technology “not to wage war”, but “to guarantee that all countries that want peace know that Brazil will be on their side”, and that the country needs “highly qualified, prepared and equipped” Armed Forces to guarantee peace when necessary.

For Lula, the Franco-Brazilian military partnership “shows Brazil’s interest in achieving greater strategic autonomy in the face of the countless conflicts that have arisen in the world”, and a strong defense is also a guarantee in the event of “animosities against the democratic process”.

Macron, for his part, signaled his interest in strengthening military cooperation between the two countries and “launching more ambitious projects” in the coming decades.

“We want Brazil and France to be big and powerful because the situation in the world worries us. And this concern is also a pretext for an even greater ambition in which France and Brazil can cooperate in the service of the world,” he said.

“Brazil and France have to speak firmly if they don’t want to be lackeys of others”

Without mentioning any specific conflict, Macron stressed that the two countries have “the same vision of the world” and refuse to be prisoners of the dispute between two powers. He also argued that nations of the size of France and Brazil have to speak with “firmness and strength” if they don’t want to be “lackeys” of other nations. “We have to defend our independence, our sovereignty and international law.”

The contract that Brazil signed with the French state-owned shipyard DCNS for the production of the five submersibles required an investment of R$40 billion and also includes the construction of an industrial complex and a base to support the submarines’ operations in Itaguaí. The current partnership provides for the complete transfer of technology only for conventional submarines such as the Tonelero launched on Wednesday – which should help patrol the Brazilian coast.

With the transfer of technology provided for in the partnership with France, Brazil will have increased capacity to design, build, operate and maintain its submarines.

Friendly atmosphere

This is the first visit by a French chief executive to the country in more than ten years – the last was in 2013, under socialist François Hollande.

The trip comes after a period of distancing with the political instability in Brazil since 2015 and the climate of open animosity during the government of former president Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022).

In the images that have circulated so far of the visit, taken by the Planalto’s official photographer, Ricardo Stuckert, there is a friendly atmosphere between Macron and Lula – so much so that internet users have joked that they resemble a pre-nuptial photo shoot.

Paris openly celebrated Lula’s return to power from the 2022 elections. The previous year, in a clear message to Bolsonaro, Macron even received Lula in Paris with a protocol reserved for heads of state, even though at the time Lula was only a pre-candidate for the presidency.

However, Macron and Lula still have differences on a number of issues, such as the Mercosur-European Union agreement and the war in Ukraine, for example – two subjects that so far don’t seem to have been discussed between the two.


Macron’s three-day agenda began on Tuesday in Belém do Pará, with the announcement of plans to create a national conservation unit between Brazil and French Guiana, a French overseas territory on the border with Amapá.

The project, which is expected to have an investment of 2 billion dollars (R$9.96 billion), should be a reference center for scientific research aimed at sustainable development.

Macron and Lula also launched a program to raise 1 billion euros (around R$5.4 billion) in public and private investment within four years for bioeconomy (sustainable economy) projects in the Brazilian Legal Amazon and also in the French Guiana Amazon. The action is part of the Action Plan on the Bioeconomy and the Protection of Tropical Forests, signed by the two countries.

Macron will fly to São Paulo on Wednesday evening, where he is due to meet French businessmen during the Brazil-France Economic Forum at the São Paulo State Federation of Industries (Fiesp). He will then attend a dinner with Brazilian artists and cultural figures, including singer-songwriter Chico Buarque.

On Thursday, Macron will fly to Brasilia, where he will be received with the honors of a head of state and will meet with Lula at the Planalto Palace. There, the two will discuss issues such as the reform of multilateral institutions and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

ra/le (Agência Brasil, EFE, AFP, Lusa, ots) *** Translated by DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

By admin