Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Brazil-China Carrier Bit

Last week, Galrahn mentioned this Kai Thaler IPRIS article on the potential cooperation between China and Brazil on carrier operations training. The article includes a discussion of what China is getting out of the deal, and also briefly summarizes China's case for acquiring an aircraft carrier. Thaler's speculation on the Brazilian side is a little bit more interesting; he suggests that Brazil may want the general prestige associated with helping to train the military of a nascent superpower, but may also want concrete Chinese support for a permanent Brazilian spot on the UN Security Council, and assistance on a nuclear submarine program.

The first two make sense, but I'm uncertain about the last. While China might be limited in its potential naval aviation training partners, it seems likely that Brazil has multiple options for collaboration on nuclear submarines. Brazil has a good defense relationship with France, and Russia has proven more than willing to share technology associated with nuclear submarines (and even to lease boats). France and Russia are legally limited in their ability to transfer nuclear technology to non-nuclear states, but China suffers under the same handicap. Why, given these options, Brazil would focus on cooperation with a relatively inexperienced operator of nuclear submarines is unclear to me. I suppose it would have helped if Thaler had detailed the sources of what he calls "speculation" that China might assist Brazil with SSN technology and expertise.

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