Brazil has initiated discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the use of nuclear fuel in a submarine for the first time.

According to a report by Reuters, the country has awarded a contract to French defence firm Naval Group for developing a nuclear-powered submarine.

Until now, only five permanent (P5) member nations of the UN Security Council have nuclear weapons. It includes the US, China, Russia, Britain and France.

Brazil is a party to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has no nuclear weapons until now.

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In a statement, IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “Another important development is that related to Brazil’s formal communication to initiate discussions with the Secretariat on an arrangement for Special Procedures for the use of nuclear material under safeguards in nuclear propulsion and in the operation of submarines and prototypes.”

Initial talks were held between Brazil, the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC) and the Secretariat at the end of last month, and another meeting is planned before the end of 2022.

Grossi added: “I commend Brazil for its transparent approach and decision to work closely with the Agency on this important project. For the Agency, the non-proliferation aspects and the legal obligations of all concerned are central.”

Last year, the US, UK and Australia began similar talks with IAEA for acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

The talks were initiated for Australia to acquire nuclear submarines through a technology transfer from the US.

The three nations together form a trilateral security pact called AUKUS.

Like Brazil, Australia is also a party to NPT and does not have nuclear weapons.

Since March two technical meetings were held between the three nations and the IAEA’s team, while other meetings are expected to be held in the upcoming months.

Grossi said: “I would like to express my satisfaction with the engagement and transparency shown by the three countries thus far.”