Brazil to export enriched uranium from Resende to Argentina

Industrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB), the company in Brazil that controls the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, has signed a contract with Argentina's Combustibles Nuclear Argentinos SA (Conuar) to export enriched uranium. The enrichment level of the uranium to be shipped ranges from 1.9% to 3.1% of uranium-235. The purpose of the uranium is to fuel the Carem reactor, which uses uranium enriched to up to 3.1% of U-235. If the contract goes through, this would be the first time Brazil exports enriched uranium.

INB comes under the National Commission on Nuclear Energy, which is within the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry. The enrichment technology, however, belongs to the Navy, which comes under the Defense Ministry. The uranium enrichment centrifuges are built by the Navy but operated by the INB at its Nuclear Fuel Factory at Resende; INB does not have access to the technology itself. There have been disputes between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Brazil over the Agency's visual access to the centrifuges.

The CAREM reactor has been in development since the 1980s and construction of the reactor was scheduled to begin in 2001. In 2009, CAREM developers promised that the reactor was "expected to be finished by the end of 2014." According to an update from February 2016, the reactor is scheduled to achieve first criticality in the second half of 2018.