Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 29.2021
2021.07.19 — 2021.07.25
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
India Organized the BRICS Tourism Ministers' Meeting (Индия организовала встречу министров туризма стран БРИКС) / India, July, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation

Minister for Tourism Shri G. Kishan Reddy chaired the BRICS Tourism Ministers' meeting, as part of India's BRICS chairship. The Ministers of all the member countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa participated in the meeting.

India organized the BRICS Tourism Ministers' Meeting as an effective means to promote tourism cooperation among BRICS countries. The meeting reviewed the intra BRICS Tourism cooperation.The significant aspect of the meeting was the adoption of the Ministers' Communique, an outcome document on cooperation and promotion of tourism between the BRICS countries. The Ministers' Communique recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely endangered public health and has presented immense challenges to the implementation of sustainable development goals.

Tourism Minister Shri G Kishan Reddy stressed on the importance of the BRICS member States to have a good understanding of each other's tourism products and offerings so as to encourage further growth of tourist inflow between the BRICS member countries. Shri Reddy also mentioned that the common tourism products in BRICS countries such as heritage & culture tourism, nature, wildlife, Eco tourism etc., present an opportunity for greater cooperation and exchange of information and best practices.

Further, to promote tourism for the future, it was recognized that BRICS alliance for Green Tourism can accelerate the recovery and development of tourism on sustainable lines. Some of the key elements of the BRICS alliance for green tourism are mainstreaming sustainability into the tourism sector policies, conservation efforts, sustainable development goals, shift towards renewable source of energy, conservation efforts for green tourism which will encourage investment in nature based solutions and supporting the fragile eco systems.

The BRICS Tourism Ministers' Meeting also highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation in tourism in the areas of promoting responsible and sustainable tourism, investment in tourism infrastructure, close interaction between tourism enterprises and human resource development. The Ministers resolved to work together to realise the full potential of BRICS countries through cooperation in the tourism sector.

India Education Diary
BRICS Space Cooperation: Room for Another Member? (Сотрудничество БРИКС в космосе: место для ещё одного участника?) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: space, cooperation

By Sergey Semenov & Yuliya Katsenko

In the run-up to the rotating Russian presidency of BRICS, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Moscow intended to deepen cooperation on space issues in the BRICS framework. "We will undoubtedly flesh out the nascent five-party cooperation in space," the diplomat said, adding that efforts in that direction "may require a more specific and systemic approach".

Current priorities

Bilateral projects account for most of the ongoing BRICS cooperation on space issues. For example, Russia helps to train Brazilian space specialists at the Academician Korolev National Research University in Samara. Russia has also deployed five non-query measurement stations (NQMS) of its Glonass satellite navigation system in Brazil; the sixth station is to follow before the end of 2020. In 2016, the first Glonass NQMS was also deployed on the African continent (in South Africa). There are plans for mutual hosting of satellite navigation stations with India and China, which means that land-based Glonass stations may soon appear in all five of the current BRICS members.The Russian stations also serve another crucial role of tracking the space debris that poses a hazard for all spacecraft.

Within the bilateral Russian-Chinese space dialogue under the auspices of the BRICS, Russia and China signed an agreement in May 2019 on the joint implementation of the project of a Rocket Space Complex (RSC) "Aerospace" on the basis of the Center named after academician V. P. Makeyev (Chelyabinsk region, Miass city). The project is worth more than $ 1.5 billion. It provides for the concept of "air launch" of light and ultralight launch vehicles from advanced IL-76 aircraft. Based on the published data, it should be assumed that such a concept is a dual-use project designed, among other things, to launch small satellites into established polar orbits.

Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev has spoken about Russia's readiness to provide India with technological support in the development of life-support, navigation, and docking systems for a manned spacecraft. Negotiations are already under way on supplying Russian engines for heavy and superheavy space launchers required for the Indian national manned spaceflight program. India plans to launch its first manned space mission using the Gaganyaan carrier by 2022. The initial cosmonaut training will take place in India, but Russia and India have already signed an agreement on space training. According to Ambassador Kudashev, Moscow and New Delhi could also cooperate on Venus, Mars, and Sun exploration programs.

The most significant milestone in the BRICS space cooperation was the decision to set up a joint virtual fleet of remote sensing satellites. As a result of that decision, BRICS members will gain access to remote sensing data collecting by each other's satellites, whereas South Africa, which has no such satellites of its own, will be given access to data from Brazilian, Russian, Indian, and Chinese satellites. There have also been discussions on the possibility of launching a new space station in partnership with the BRICS nations.

Another thing in common between all five BRICS members is their opposition to the deployment of weapons in outer space. The final declaration of the 11th BRICS summit held in Brazil in 2019 expresses concern over the nascent arms race in the outer space and the lack of any legal framework to keep it in check because the draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space has yet to be approved.

The Final Declaration of the 12th BRICS summit also confirms the common positions of the member countries on this issue, and declares the existence of "an urgent need to agree on a legally binding multilateral instrument" that would prevent the militarization of outer space. In addition, the Declaration contains provisions on the desire for comprehensive cooperation on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space both within the BRICS and with the UN institutions. "We emphasize that practical transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space (TCBMs), including the "No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space Initiative", can also contribute to achieving this goal. We reaffirm that the TCBMs should complement, and not replace, an effective legally binding regime of outer space," the Declaration emphasizes.

According to Dmitry Rogozin, director of the Russian space corporation Roskosmos, "BRICS should ramp up cooperation on improving legal regulation of space activities, protecting them from various challenges and threats at the national and international level, and strengthening the security of space operations". Rogozin added that "it is necessary to keep the outer space free of weapons of any kind, so that it remains suitable for long-term and sustainable use by the current and future generations".

All the potential BRICS membership candidates agree that militarization of the outer space is unacceptable. Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, and Indonesia always vote in support of the UN General Assembly resolutions "Prevention of the Arms Race in the Outer Space" and "No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space". The only outlier is Turkey, which is bound by NATO discipline and always abstains on that resolution. Also, it is worth noting that Argentina has undertaken a unilateral political commitment on no first placement of weapons in the outer space.

The existing BRICS members and the membership candidates have few, if any differences on political issues related to the outer space – but analysis of the technological potential of Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Indonesia yields a less consistent picture.


The main priorities of the Argentine space program include the development of SAOCOM and NUSAT remote sensing satellites and gaining independent access to the outer space pro - vided by the Tronador-II light space launcher. The budget of Argentina's national space agency CONAE was slashed from 190m US dollars to 50m in 2019. As a result, the country was forced to postpone its space launcher plans indefinitely.

CONAE pursues close cooperation with NASA, and most of the Argentine satellites were put into orbit by US carriers launched from US launchpads. Argentina's SAOCOM 1A satellite was launched in 2018 in cooperation with NASA and SpaceX. In August 2020, SpaceX launched the SAOCOM 1B using a Falcon 9 launcher. Another two SAOCOM satellites (2A and 2B) are scheduled for launch in 2021.

Argentina has signed an agreement with Italy on the SIASGE joint fleet of remote sensing satellites that can be used to collect data about natural disasters. The fleet includes 4 Italian satellites and Argentina's own SAOCOM 1A satellite, which will shortly be joined by the SAOCOM 1B.

Of the existing BRICS members, Argentina already pursues space cooperation with China and Russia. China was involved in a 50m-dollar project to build a satellite tracking station in Argentina. According to statements made by China and Argentina, the station is used only for peaceful and research purposes. Nevertheless, it has caused some concern in Washington, which suspects that the facility situated in the Patagonia desert can be used for intelligence-gathering and military purposes.

At the same time, cooperation is also carried out within the framework of the Argentine-Indian dialogue. Back to September 2018, the two countries signed a Framework Agreement on cooperation, and during the 5th round of consultations between the foreign Ministries of the two states, held on September 10, 2020, the Indian Space Research Organization invited the Argentine National Space Commission to cooperate on the launches of the Argentine SAOCOM satellites.

In 2019, Argentina and Russia signed an updated bilateral protocol on cooperation on outer space exploration and peaceful use. According to Mikhail Khaylov, deputy chief of Roskosmos, the agreement covers all possible areas of cooperation, including remote earth sensing, the development of various spacecraft, and manned space programs. As part of that agreement, Moscow could supply Argentina with rocket engines and fuel, as well as share some space tech - nology solutions.

With its existing land infrastructure and technological potential, Argentina could make a notable contribution to BRICS space cooperation. Owing to its ongoing difficulties with financing, the Argentine space agency needs to further expand its network of partnerships, and especially to attract more funding for space projects, which tend to be very expensive.


Mexico launched its first space satellite back in 1985. Since then, it has put into orbit an additional 15 spacecraft, most of them com - munication satellites. Mexico does not have a space launch capability of its own, so it uses other countries' launchpads. Several of its satellites were launched from the Baikonur. In 2019, the Roskosmos subsidiary Glavkosmos and Mexico's Iniciativa Espacial Mexicana MXSpace signed a memorandum that will help to promote Russian space industry products and services in the Mexican market.

In 2019, Mexico joined the Asia Pacif - ic Organization for Space Cooperation, a Chinese-led outfit.

In addition, the country is currently pursuing the goal of creating a Caribbean-Latin American Space Agency, which in the future, as planned, can become an analogue of the European Space Agency, whose goal is to deepen cooperation between the European countries both on scientific space exploration and (especially important for some countries, such as El Salvador, where only 27% of the popu - lation has Internet access) the development of near-Earth space with the aim of expanding the network of telecommunications satellites.

In 2014, Mexico and India signed a memorandum of understanding on space cooperation as part of their progress towards a strategic partnership. The memorandum discusses cooperation projects in remote earth sensing satellites and peaceful uses of the outer space. As present, the Mexican and Indian space agencies are in talks to expand the scope of the memorandum by including cooperation in the area of innovation and technologies. In 2018, India organized a demon - stration for Mexico in the use of remote earth sensing satellites for monitoring wildfires. In other words, Mexico already pursues space cooperation with several BRICS nations in a bilateral framework, and it could seamlessly integrate into multilateral BRICS-wide space cooperation initiatives.


Turkey made a great push with its space program in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The first Turkish communication satellite, TURK - SAT-1B, was put into orbit in 1994. The country has now launched 13 satellites, including five communication satellites, one remote earth sensing spacecraft, six research, and two military satellites. By the end of 2020, they will be followed by another communication satellite, the Turksat 5A. The country's first two indigenously made satellites, Turksat 5B and Turksat 6A, are scheduled for launch in 2021-2022. This will make Turkey one of only about a dozen countries capable of building their own satellites.

In February 2021, an extremely ambitious Roadmap for the Turkish space program for a 10-year perspective was published. According to the statement of Turkish President T. R. Erdogan, "this national space program will lead our country to the top league of the world space race", and "the main and most important goal of this pro - gram is to launch a Turkish spacecraft to the moon in the year of the 100th anniversary of our republic [2023]". This program provides for the achievement of a number of goals to increase the economic efficiency of the Turkish space program and to make the country one of the leaders in the exploration of near-Earth space by the early 2030s.

At the same time, on April 11, 2021, the Minister of Industry and Technology of Turkey, Mustafa Varank, announced the first suc - cessful tests of a hybrid engine for the Turkish "lunar" program.

Russia and Turkey are currently in talks on signing a bilater - al agreement on cooperation in the exploration and peaceful use of the outer space. According to Roskosmos director Dmitry Rogozin, Russia could train the first Turkish cosmonaut by 2023, as well as share its rocket engine and spacecraft technologies. According to the head of the Turkish Space Agency, Serdar H. Yuildirim, Turkey hopes to conclude an agreement with Russia on further areas of cooperation in this area within "several months". At the same time, Ankara plans to launch its own cosmonaut training program after 2023, for which more than $ 6 billion will be allocated.

On March 14, 2021, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, announced the existence of important bilateral long-term interests in the field of space exploration, and also confirmed the preparation of a draft document on the cooperation between Russia and Turkey in this area. He also stressed that it should become the legal basis for Russian-Turkish cooperation on peaceful space exploration.

At the same time, Turkey continues to cooperate in the field of space exploration with Western aerospace companies. Thus, in January 2021, President R. T. Erdogan held a telephone conversation with the head of SpaceX, Elon Musk, during which they discussed the directions and details of further cooperation between the American corporation and Turkish aerospace companies.


Iran currently has two active satellites in orbit. A total of six satellites have been launched since the Iranian space program began. The country also has several launchpads suitable for satellite launches. According to the latest report published by the intelligence directorate of the Iranian Ministry of Defense, Iran also has two space carriers (the Safir and the Simorgh) capable of delivering microsatellites to the low Earth orbit. The Safir has already put into orbit several communication and remote earth sensing satellites, whereas all the Simorgh launches have ended in failure. Nevertheless, on February 1, 2021, Iran announced the first successful launch of a new Zuljanah rocket capable of launching a payload of up to 240 kg into space.

The opportunities for Iran's international cooperation on space exploration and peaceful use are severely limited by US sanctions. Restrictions imposed by the United States apply to the Iranian Space Agency, the Center for Space Research and the Center for Astronautical Research. That is why it is unlikely that the space agencies of the other BRICS members would be willing to pursue any major space cooperation programs with Iran, especially since the Iranian space program is not very far advanced in terms of its available resources and technologies.

In 2019, following Vladimir Putin's promise to provide assistance to the space exploration programs of Turkey, Bahrein, and Saudi Arabia – and after Russia helped to arrange the flight of the first UAE cosmonaut to the International Space Station – Iran urged Russia to begin negotiations on arranging for a similar flight to the ISS by an Iranian cosmonaut and on training that cosmonaut in Russia.


According to UN data, Egypt has launched a total of 9 spacecraft since the start of its space program, including three remote earth sensing satellites. At present, the Egyptian space fleet includes only one active remote earth sensing satellite, which is expected to remain operational until 2024. Nevertheless, Egypt is one of the region's leaders in space exploration. In 2019 alone, the country placed 4 satellites into orbit. And even though some of them failed well before the end of their design lifespan, launching four satellites in a space of a single year is a record for the African continent. Egypt's leading role in space exploration is also emphasized by the fact that Cairo hosts the headquarters of the African Space Agency.

In 2020, Egypt adopted a 10-year space program covering the period to 2030. The country's plans for the next three years include placing another two satellites into orbit. Egypt also hopes to send its first cosmonaut into space by 2025. The Egyptian space program prioritizes communication satellites and spacecraft that can track climate change. It also has a major military component. It has been reported that Egypt has used a remote earth sensing satellite to keep track of the construction of the Hidase hydroelectric power plant's dam (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam) in Ethiopia.

Additionally, Egypt has two ground stations in Cairo and Aswan, which are also used by the African Space Agency.

Egypt pursues very productive cooperation with France; the Egyptian satellite Tiba 1 was launched by the French Ari - ane 5 carrier with the assistance of Arianespace company. Japan has also been involved in placing Egyptian satellites into orbit.

Nevertheless, the main source of financial assistance to the Egyptian space program is China. In January 2019, Beijing and Cairo signed their third agreement on financing an Egyptian space project (to build and launch the MisrSat II satellite) worth 72 million dollars. After the completion of this Si - no-Egyptian project, Egypt will become the first African state that has its own satellite assembly and testing technologies.

At the same moment, Egypt is also holding a dialogue on space with Russia. On March 5, 2021, it emerged that there are plans to sign a cooperation agreement between the Egyptian Space Agency and "Roscosmos". In addition, in January 2020 Egypt began a 6-year program to select and train the first national astronauts.


Indonesia plans to build its own space launcher capable of placing spacecraft into 200-300km orbits by 2025. Specialists with the Nikkei Asian Review believe 2040 is the more realistic time frame for Indonesia to acquire the capability to launch satellites from its own territory. At present, Indonesia uses launchpads in India for its satellite launches. But Indonesia's equatorial position offers a valuable advantage since launching a rocket into space from the equator requires less energy. In 2006, Russia and Indonesia considered the possibility of using Biak Island for launching rockets into space using the "air launch" technology. Currently, the spaceport is being considered for launching multi-stage rockets without a person on board, and the first launches are planned to begin by 2024.150 At the same time, the creation of both the cosmodrome and its own independent space industry is planned to be completed by 2045.

In addition, the launch of the largest Indonesian telecommunications satellite, ASTRA, is planned for 2023, the total cost of the project is approaching 550 million dollars. Currently, Indonesia is going to deactivate 5 national and 4 foreign satellites with a total capacity of 50 Gbit/sec, while the projected required capacity of the Indonesian satellite constellation by 2030 should be more than 900 Gbit/sec, which indicates significant plans of Indonesia to develop its space program in the next decade.

Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands, which is why the country's leadership has a strong interest in developing satellite technologies for monitoring the national border and providing remove islands with satellite communications.


Over the short term, building and expanding remote earth sensing satellite fleets will become a key priority of international space cooperation. Every BRICS membership candidate discussed in this paper has some indigenous technological capability in that area, but Argentina appears the most advanced in that sense. There are, however, certain doubts about the resilience of the Argentine economy since the country is already struggling to maintain its existing space fleet, and the satellites already in orbit are not always able to secure enough business to make them commercially viable.

Over the longer term, cooperation with Indonesia opens up the most promising opportunities because of the country's advantageous geographic situation. Launching satellites from one of the Indonesian islands near the equator would significantly reduce the per-kilogram cost of putting payloads into orbit. But in order to make such cooperation a realistic possibility, Indonesia will have to do some serious homework, which should include the development of the national space infrastructure. BRICS could provide some assistance to such an endeavor, including financial support via its New Development Bank.
Peaceful Nuclear Energy Potential of BRICS Membership Candidates (Мирный ядерный энергетический потенциал кандидатов в БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues

By Sergey Semenov & Yuliya Katsenko

Nuclear power is not high on the BRICS agenda. The last time peaceful nuclear energy was mentioned was in the declaration of the Xiamen summit in 2017. Neither does nuclear energy feature among the priorities designated in the BRICS Energy Research Platform approved in 2019. Nevertheless, nuclear energy is one of the areas where Russia has the most to offer to its international partners, and the topic should be prioritized in the framework of the Energy Research Platform.

At present, BRICS lacks a clear framework for peaceful nuclear energy cooperation, and its member states mainly pursue such cooperation on a bilateral basis. At some point in the future, the BRICS bloc could establish a proper multilateral framework in that area, which could potentially include some non-members in the "Outreach" and "BRICS-Plus" format. In such an event, BRICS could become a useful platform for the promotion of Russian initiatives that aim for a greater international utilization of the advantages offered by peaceful nuclear energy. We are not talking merely about propaganda; successful cooperation in the BRICS framework could also help Russia's Rosatom state nuclear energy corporation win new markets. That is why it would be in Russia's best interests to make sure that BRICS membership is offered to those candidates that have a clear potential for nuclear energy development and are ready for cooperation with Moscow in that area.

Argentina already has an advanced nuclear energy program. There are three nuclear power plants and five research reactors in operation in that country, as well as an advanced R&D program to develop an indigenous nuclear reactor technology. Another nuclear power plant is currently under construction. Nuclear power accounts for 4.7 per cent of Argentine electricity generation, and according to OECD estimates, that figure could rise to 11.8 per cent by 2030.

Argentina actively pursues international nuclear energy cooperation. In fact, Buenos Aires aims to become the nuclear energy leader in Latin America. In 2019, the country hosted the 4th Nuclear Industry Summit Latin America. It has also signed nuclear energy cooperation agreements with such major international partners as Russia, China, India, and several other states.

One of the key areas of Russian-Argentine cooperation is to explore the possibility of building various high- and low-output nuclear power plants in Argentina. The bilateral strategic document on peaceful nuclear energy cooperation signed in 2018 has also established a framework for a joint implementation of projects in third countries, including projects to build nuclear research centers and train nuclear energy specialists.

Despite the importance of the bilateral document signed with Argentina in 2018, there aren't any quick winnings on the horizon. In fact, owing to economic difficulties, the Argentine government has put on hold its previous plans to build a nuclear power plant using Russian reactor technology. We believe that these economic troubles – which the Argentine social and economic model seems to throw up with some regularity – make it impossible to expect the development of a sustainable Russian-Argentine peaceful nuclear energy partnership in the foreseeable future. Even though it would be in Russia's best interests to pursue such cooperation, its potential scale is not sufficient, in and of itself, to justify the offer of a BRICS membership to Argentina.

Mexico relies heavily on hydrocarbons for its energy generation, and nuclear power accounts for only 4 per cent of the country's production of electricity. The country's only operational nuclear power plant, the Laguna Verde NPP, consists of 2 nuclear power reactors. It was built in the late 1980s – early 1990s, and its original design lifespan was extended in 2020 until 2050. In 2019, the Mexican government began to consider the possibility of building another four nuclear power reactors.

Up until recently, the main focus of Mexico's international nuclear energy cooperation was on bilateral projects with the United States. Both of Mexico's NPPs were built using US reactor technology, and the United States provided all the enriched uranium for their operation. But in 2011, Mexico reached an agreement with Russia that its NPPs would switch to fuel made of Russian enriched uranium by 2016. The country has also established a legal framework for nuclear energy cooperation with France, South Korea, Russia, Canada, Argentina, and Australia.

Turkey has ambitious nuclear energy plans. Rosatom is currently building the country's first nuclear power plant in Akkuyu, and there are plans to build another NPP in Sinop. According to the latest reports, Turkey has rejected the terms for the Sinop NPP construction project proposed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which means that Russia has a chance to win the Turkish contract for another four nuclear power reactors.

The launch of the four reactors of the Akkuyu NPP will enable Turkey to overcome its dependence on energy imports.

Turkey is actively involved in international peaceful nuclear energy cooperation. It is a member of CERN and has signed cooperation agreements with Argentina, Russia, China, Japan, and Germany. If peaceful nuclear energy cooperation ever becomes a major area of joint effort in the BRICS format, Turkey, with its ambitious NPP program, could become a showcase for such cooperation.

Iran has one nuclear power reactor already in operation at the Bushehr NPP. Another reactor is currently being built at Bushehr, and Iran is planning to build at least one other NPP at another site. In theory, the country has the capability to build a complete nuclear fuel cycle, but its international commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (NPP) effectively rule out that option.

Russian-Iranian strategic partnership on peaceful nuclear energy dates back to 1992, when the two countries signed an agreement to build a nuclear power plant in Iran. In 2014, following the completion of the No 1 reactor at Bushehr, Moscow and Tehran signed a protocol to that agreement and a memorandum on further cooperation. A ceremony to kick off the construction of the No 2 and 3 reactors at the Bushehr NPP was held in 2017.

At present, the possibilities for international cooperation with Iran are limited. After pulling out of the JCPoA, Washington reimposed its unilateral restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program and the organizations involved in it. That is why, despite Iran's formidable capability in the area of peaceful nuclear energy, the sanctions risk can outweigh all the potential benefits of cooperation with that country for the BRICS member states.

Egypt is actively involved in international peaceful nuclear energy cooperation and works closely with the IAEA on a number of projects. It has two operational research reactors, two particle accelerators, and a radioactive isotopes production facility. It is also building four nuclear reactors at the El Dabaa NPP using Russian technology and Russian government-backed credit financing.192193 The completion of the project is expected in 2028-2029.

Indonesia is showing serious interest in nuclear energy, but it has yet to build its first NPP. In 2014, the country adopted a new edition of its energy strategy that includes nuclear energy goals. It also has plans to build a research reactor using Russian reactor technology, and the Indonesian government has also shown interest in the Russian floating NPP technology. We believe that Russian-Indonesian cooperation on nuclear energy has a lot of potential, even though there have been numerous delays with launching any practical efforts in that area.

At the same time, it should be clearly understood that despite Indonesia's determination to build a nuclear energy industry, that goal can take years and even decades to achieve. According to the methodology used by the IAEA, a country that has embarked upon the path towards nuclear energy must undertake certain international commitments, build the required national infrastructure, and put in place the capabilities needed for a safe, secure, and economically sustainable NPP operation and regulation. That is why before starting to build its first NPP, Indonesia might take 10-15 years just to implement the necessary preparations.

That being said, consolidated action by members of the BRICS alliance, including a meticulously planned (and diligently implemented) roadmap for each individual country's nuclear energy development, could bolster the BRICS international standing and reputation.

Detailed analysis of the nuclear energy potential of Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Indonesia as candidates for BRICS membership suggests that none of these countries is capable of taking peaceful nuclear energy cooperation in the BRICS format to a whole new level. What is more, BRICS itself currently lacks a clear understanding of how to pursue multilateral cooperation in that area in its current membership format.

We believe that it would be in Russia's best interests to facilitate the formulation of a strategy for such cooperation because it would help to promote Russia's commercial and other interests in a multilateral framework. In particular, it would be useful to draw up a roadmap of BRICS cooperation on peaceful nucle - ar energy for the next 5-7 years, including a detailed plan of action, preferably with a clear set of performance indicators. Russia, which took over the rotating BRICS presidency in 2020, is in a good position to initiate the development of such a strategy.

The "nuclear" winnings from offering BRICS membership to the aforementioned candidates would be negligibly small. The partic - ipation or non-participation or any or all of those states in BRICS does not prevent Russia (or any other BRICS member, for that matter) from pursuing cooperation with them on a bilateral basis. Nevertheless, engagement in the Outreach or BRICS-Plus format could offer certain benefits. If and when the BRICS club is ready to propose its own peaceful nuclear energy initiatives, coordination with non-members that have a tangible nuclear energy potential would strengthen the positions of the five BRICS members at the IAEA, the UN, and other relevant international institutions.

Sergey Semyonov - coordinator of the PIR Center program "Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation", Yulia Katsenko - PhD student, IMEMO RAN.

PIR Center
Even Six Is not Enough: BRICS Enlargement and WMD Terrorism (Даже шести недостаточно: расширение БРИКС и терроризм с применением оружия массового уничтожения) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: terrorism,

By Sergey Semenov& Nikita Shutyak

A discussion of the problem of WMD terrorism in the context of BRICS enlargement may not seem obviously relevant. Cooperation to counter this type of the terror threat is not among the bloc's current priorities. The last time the issue was mentioned at all was in the final declaration of the BRICS summit in 2016, when the five nations welcomed India's initiative to hold a conference on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in 2018.

Nevertheless, terrorism remains a pressing problem for all BRICS members. The BRICS Counterterrorism Strategy prioritizes international cooperation in countering the terror threat. The practical side of such cooperation – such as information sharing between the secret services of the countries involved – usually happens in secret. Also, the strategy may involve harmonization of national approaches to the problem of terrorism.

Naturally, cooperation in combating terrorism cannot be limited by the current five BRICS members as it requires a joint effort with as many partners as possible. Such an effort cannot and should not be made conditional on BRICS enlargement or any other political considerations. That is why countering terrorism (and especially WMD terrorism) will be part of the acquis communautaire in the process of BRICS enlargement – but it will not be at the top of the enlargement agenda.

Unlike the other sections of this report, the current section does not focus on the potential contribution of each membership candidate to the problem at hand (countering terrorism, in this instance). It makes more sense to consider Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Indonesia as a representative sample that highlights the needs of the entire international community in terms of combating WMD terrorism. Such an analysis can them be used to outline the shape of future BRICS cooperation on the problem of terrorism with a much broader range of international partners.

Of course, focusing only on WMD terrorism rather than the broader terror threat artificially limits the scope of this report. We regard such a focus as a useful way to stimulate a discussion on engaging other nations in counterterrorism cooperation in the BRICS framework, and we deliberately use the issue of WMD as a pilot for such a discussion. Further debate on this subject would require the involvement of the broader expert community in Russia and the other BRICS member states.

GICNT and others

Most of the international effort to combat WMD terrorism is taking place in the framework of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), UN Security Council Resolution 1540, the IAEA, and other multilateral instruments. The International Convention Against Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism proposed by Russia at the Conference on Disarmament in 2016 could become another useful addition to that list.

Of the potential BRICS membership candidates discussed in this paper, only Argentina, Mexico, and Turkey already participate in the GICNT, whereas Iran, Egypt, and Indonesia have yet to join. Three working groups have been established in the GICNT framework: on nuclear forensics, on nuclear detection, and on emergency response and relief. All three groups develop recommendations and conduct practical events such as work - shops, tabletop and field exercises, training sessions, etc.

Argentina and Mexico stand out for their active involvement in field training exercises on the prevention of nuclear terrorism. In 2019, Argentina conducted the Pampa Knife nuclear security demonstration training event, which showcased effective coordination between the emergency response services and technical specialists in dealing with a simulated terror attacks involving the use of nuclear or radioactive materials during a mass public gathering event. In 2017, Argentina and Chile conducted the Paihuen II tabletop exercise to improve bilateral protocols of response to the threat of nucle - ar terrorism, the first such event since the Paihuen I in 2014.

Mexico held the Jaguar Negro national field training exercise in 2018. It also hosted a meeting of a GICNT working group in Ocoyoacac and Mexico City. The goal of those exercises was to strengthen regional cooperation during emergencies, including joint efforts in the area of radiological forensics; improve liaison protocols; and develop an effective cooperation process for investigating terror attacks involving the use of nuclear or other radioactive materials.

Mexico is also actively involved in nuclear security-related efforts in the IAEA framework. The country follows IAEA recommendations on the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities. It participates in IAEA technical meetings on developing recommendations for imports and exports of nuclear and radiological materials. It also hosted a visit by experts of the IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) to review the measures being taken against the threat of nuclear terrorism and improve a broad range of actions on nuclear security. The recommendations issued by IPPAS are used to prepare the Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan.

Turkey also makes a notable contribution to the IAEA-led effort on nuclear security. It participates in technical meetings on nuclear security, such as "Preventive and Protective Measures Against Insider Threats at Nuclear Facilities", "Nuclear Security Management for Research Reactors and the Related Infrastructure", and "Computer Security".

Egypt signed an Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan with the IAEA on November 27, 2014. The plan aims to strengthen multilateral cooperation on nuclear security. Egypt and the IAEA also cooperate on improving physical protection systems of the country's two research reactors.

All the potential BRICS membership candidates reviewed in this paper comply with the requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1540. All six countries have criminalized unauthorized access to and the use of WMD.

Useful information about the BRICS membership candidates' requirements in terms of combating the threat of nuclear terrorism is also contained in the Nuclear Security Index published by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. According to that index, the most vulnerable states in terms of the preparedness of their security and emergency response services are Iran and Egypt (which score 5 and 26 points, respectively, on a 100-point scale). But other membership candidates also have a lot of room for improvement as far as their emergency response systems are concerned. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the greatest contribution to strengthening nuclear security can be made by improving background checks during the hiring of personnel at sensitive facilities, strengthening regulatory capacity, improving resilience to cyberattacks, and strengthening the security culture. Even though the scoring methodology used in the NTI Index is not perfect, we believe that cooperation between these states and the existing BRICS members would be very useful in terms of combating the threat of nuclear terrorism.

BRICS as an integrator of global counterterrorism efforts

The BRICS nations have long called for the signing of a comprehensive convention on combating international terrorism. In their opinion, such an instrument would put an end to the dispersal of the counterterrorism agenda across multiple different platforms, which inevitably hinders the focusing of the international community's effort to defeat this evil facing every country on the planet. BRICS could well serve as an integrator of the efforts of different countries and alliances in this area, helping to universalize the existing instruments and find common ground. At the same time, there should be no illusions: the existing differences between various countries run so deep that a comprehensive convention on combating terrorism is not something that can be achieved any time soon. But that only makes all the more relevant the potential unifying role of BRICS – a role that bloc can play thanks to its truly unique membership.

BRICS counterterrorism efforts would augment the activities undertaken in the existing frameworks such as the Regional Counterterrorism Structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which three of the five BRICS nations are also members. We believe that the five BRICS nations are capable of taking the experience and mechanisms of cooperation between Eurasian states to the global level.

The need for such an integrator is clearly demonstrated by the problem of WMD terrorism. Many nations remain outside the GICNT and are not involved in the sharing of best practices in countering this type of the terror threat. Let us also recall that the United States has tried to become an integrator of the international community's efforts in combating nuclear terrorism. As part of those attempts, the Obama administration held a series of nuclear security summits that were attended by all the BRICS membership candidates discussed in this paper, except for Iran. The United States is also working to strengthen cooperation in this area in the bilateral framework.

It cannot be ruled out that under the new Democratic administration, Washington will try to resurrect the nuclear security summit series. But BRICS has one clear advantage over the United States: cooperation in the BRICS framework is devoid of the element of US mentorship. It is pursued as a join effort of equal partners, without any attempts by the "leader" to foist any behavioral models on its "followers". That side of the reputation BRICS has earned for itself on the international arena could be very attractive for the developing states. As a case in point, it would be very hard to imagine Iran agreeing to take part in such cooperation with the United States – but cooperation between Iran and BRICS would be entirely realistic.

Sergey Semyonov - coordinator of the PIR Center program "Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation", Nikita Shutyak - PIR Center intern, master's student at MGIMO University.


Should we view the possibility of BRICS enlargement as an opportunity, or as a burden?

On the one hand, the prevailing idea that the BRICS club should first be allowed to settle down with its current membership is entirely rational. But on the other, without such enlargement, BRICS will inevitably lose its forward momentum and global attraction. The additions of new members cannot and should not be a frequent occurrence; that would be counterproductive. But it has already been quite a long time since the accession of South Africa back in 2011, which turned the BRIC bloc into BRICS. It has already been long enough to consider another round of enlargementprovided that there is a strong financial, economic, and geopolitical case for it, and that none of the existing BRICS members are opposed to the idea.

We are aware that the expansion of the BRICS in the near future could be а too radical step to insist on. Therefore, in this report, we generally avoid the recommendation for 2021 and try to speak in the context of the mid-term perspective.

Another important issue to consider is regional representation. We believe that offering membership to Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, or North African states (or state) would make it possible to strengthen relations with those regions and secure their greater support at the UN and other international venues.

A review of the security priorities of the potential membership candidates suggests that BRICS as a bloc would especially benefit from securing new partnerships on countering such emerging international challenges as terrorism, organized crime, cyberthreats, and drug trafficking. Fostering closer cooperation with states that are leaders in their respective regions would significantly expand the international "support group" for the approaches to dealing with these problems advocated by BRICS.

The benefits of BRICS enlargement are not quite as obvious in such areas as peaceful nuclear energy and space programs. That situation will certainly change at some point in the future – but for now, it would make more sense to pursue closer cooperation in these areas between the five current members. At present, BRICS cooperation on space programs is in the very early phases, and on peaceful nuclear energy, the bloc has only just recently recognized the need for such cooperation. An overhasty enlargement would only make it more difficult to forge closer ties in these areas for the existing members. As for the future, once the BRICS nations have fleshed out their cooperation plans and moved on to concrete projects, it would make better sense not to focus too much on any single membership candidate, and to pursue engagement in the BRICS-Plus and Outreach format with multiple partners instead.

For all the reasons outlined above, we believe that Indonesia appears to be the most promising candidate for BRICS membership in the medium term. The country pursues a balanced and thoughtful policy on key international security issues. It also commands a lot of respect in the Islamic world and the Nonaligned Movement. If Jakarta and BRICS were to coordinate their positions, it would help BRICS to promote its approaches more effectively in the international arena. And even though Indonesia is not at the top of the global rankings on many indicators, we believe that the country's accession to BRICS would be the least controversial.

Thanks to Indonesia's impressive economic growth rates, its accession to BRICS would also help the bloc to reinforce its positions as the leading engine of global economic growth, as well as its standing at the international financial institutions. If Indonesia were to become a member, BRICS would control over 15 per cent of the votes on the IMF Board – enough to block decisions that run counter to the club's interests.

There are also several political factors that favor Indonesia's accession. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the addition of new members would inevitably make it more difficult for the bloc to reach a consensus on various issues. Even with its current membership of five, BRICS does not always stand united on some international issues. Neither is it clear how a potential enlargement would affect cooperation with external partners in the Outreach and BRICS-Plus format. There are risks of stoking up the existing tensions between the current members, especially India and China. For example, New Delhi views Beijing's enthusiasm for the BRICS-Plus format as an attempt to dilute India's clout and use BRICS as an engine for the Belt and Road Initiative.

We believe that the opportunities offered by the current five-nation membership of the BRICS bloc have yet to be exhausted. As for the benefits offered by BRICS enlargement, many if not most of them can be gained by pursuing cooperation in other formats that stop short of a full membership.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS' New Development Bank Issued $2.25 Bln Bonds on International Capital Markets (НБР разместил облигации на сумму 2,25 млрд долларов на международных рынках) / Russia, July, 2021
Keywords: ndb, investments

The New Development Bank (NBR) of BRICS countries announced the issue of three-year bonds worth $2.25 bln on the international capital markets, the bank's press service reported. The goal of the offering is to raise funds as part of the program for fighting COVID-19.

This is the fourth and largest transaction for the bank to place dollar bonds on the international capital markets. The funds that are raised after the placement of these bonds will be used to finance sustainable development projects, as well as to issue loans as part of the BRICS emergency assistance program to fight against COVID-19.

The NDB established a corresponding support program in the amount of $10 billion in April 2020. Of this amount, $5 bln should go to support health care and social stability, while the remaining $5 bln will finance economic recovery efforts by the BRICS countries.

To date, the NDB Board of Directors has approved loans for $9 bln under this program.

"The NDB is leveraging its access to international investors to fund COVID-19 emergency response loans as well as ordinary operations," Leslie Maasdorp, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of the NDB, said as quoted by the press service. According to him, in 2020, the bank made four public bond issues, including its first America dollar-denominated bonds.

"In 2021, we plan to raise approximately $7 bln equivalent across different currencies in international and domestic capital markets, with a strong emphasis on ESG," Maasdorp said.

BRICS is an informal assembly of nations. The acronym of BRICS is derived from the first letters in the names of its member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). South Africa joined the bloc in 2011 when it was called BRIC. The bloc aims to develop comprehensive cooperation between its members.

The agreement on establishing the BRICS New Development Bank was reached on July 15, 2014, in Brazil's Fortaleza. The bank's starting capital was set at $100 bln. The Shanghai-headquartered bank has been set up to finance infrastructure projects and projects for the sustainable development of BRICS and other developing countries. The bank previously received international credit ratings of "AA +" from Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings, which allow it to effectively attract long-term funding in international and local capital markets.
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