By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fifteen years after initial talks, government representatives from Brazil and the United States are sitting down once again to talk about an agreement that would allow the U.S. to use Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Base for its satellites said Brazil’s Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.

Brazil, Maranhão,Brazil negotiating the renting out of Alcantara's launching base to the United States
Brazil negotiating the renting out of Alcantara’s launching base to the United States, photo courtesy of Brazilian Air Force.

In 2002, negotiations stalled because one the one hand the U.S. wanted to defend its technological secrets, while Brazil claimed that unless knowhow was shared it would violate the country’s sovereignty. Now Brazilian officials say that the sharing of technological knowhow is not a deal-breaker.

“If you do not have an agreement that guarantees the intellectual property of the rockets and the satellites that will be launched, no satellite and no rocket could be launched, because the vast majority of launches carry American technology,” said Minister Nunes adding that it is ‘legitimate’ for the U.S. government to want to defend its trade secrets.

“What they (the Americans) want is the defense of their trade secrets, which is legitimate. We are discussing how to exercise this defense without any violation of our sovereignty,” concluded Nunes.

During Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration, a deal was almost signed for the use of the area, which sits in the North-Northeastern part of the country, but the clause related to the U.S. retaining its technological knowhow a secret was vetoed by the Brazilian Congress, which claimed it violated the country’s sovereignty.

The Alcantara base in the state of Maranhão, is of special interest to several countries due to of its favorable position, just 140 miles from the equatorial line, which saves fuel for launching satellites. In addition to the U.S. other countries, such as France, Russia and Israel, have also shown interest in using the base for its satellite launches.

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