Nuclear butter


Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 10, 2003 at 10:09 p.m.

Talk about mixed signals.

Last weekend, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the newly elected, leftist President of Brazil, made the world sit up and take notice when he indicated that he intended to cancel a $760 million order for new jet fighter planes in order to spend the money on feeding the poor instead. "So long as there is a single Brazilian brother or sister going hungry, we have ample reason to be ashamed of ourselves," da Silva said.

Choosing butter over guns wasn't exactly risky strategy. Brazil hasn't been threatened by a foreign power since the Portuguese dropped in several hundred years ago. So bad news for the military-industrial complex, good news for Brazil's hungry.

But wait a minute. Just a few days later, Roberto Amaral, da Silva's Minister of Science, made the world sit up and take notice again, when he announced that what Brazil really needs is nuclear weapons.

"Brazil is a country at peace, that has always preserved peace and that is a defender of peace, but we need to be prepared, including technologically," Amaral told the BC. "We can't renounce any form of scientific knowledge, whether the genome, DNA or nuclear fission."

Is Brazil destined to become the world's next fledgling nuclear power, even as it struggles to feed its hungry? Is Brazil schizophrenic on the subject of guns and butter?

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