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Russia building nuclear plant in Venezuela

In World News on October 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

            On Friday, October 15, Russia and Venezuela reached an agreement to build Venezuela’s first nuclear power plant. According to the agreement, Russia will build two 1,200 megawatt nuclear reactors. The two countries also made other energy deals; one included Russia purchasing $1.6 billion in oil assets from Venezuela.

Leaders of Russia and Venezuela, Medvdev and Chavez, shake hands on their nuclear energy agreement. Photo courtesy of Google images

            This is not the first nuclear work that Russia has done abroad. Iran’s first nuclear power plant was recently completed by Russia. China, Turkey and the Czech Republic soon plan to have nuclear reactors built. Indian officials have also talked about building 12 nuclear reactors. Russia is pushing to expand the global atomic energy market and is stressing other nations’ right to peaceful nuclear energy. “We are building many plants in different countries, so why wouldn’t we build such a plant in our close partner, Venezuela? That will offer a certain degree of independence in case of a drop in world energy prices,” Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, said.

            Suspicion has arisen as to why a country with so much oil and gas would need atomic energy. “I don’t know who will shudder at this,” Medvedev stated. “The president (of Venezuela) said there will be nations that have different emotions about that, but I would like to emphasize that our intentions are absolutely pure and open: We want our partner Venezuela to have a full range of energy possibilities.” The interest in atomic energy is brought on by the want to lean away from energy dependency. A drought in 2010 caused Venezuela’s hydroelectric dam to drop to a record low, and the lack of back up energy caused blackouts. According to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, nuclear energy is part of the government’s plan for diversifying energy sources, “Strategic cooperation with Russia gives my country a huge advantage.”

            The issue has caught the attention of US President, Barack Obama, and his administration. “This is something that we will watch very closely,” P.J. Crowley, US State Department spokesman, said, “The last thing we need to do is see technology migrate to countries or groups that should not have that technology.” In reference to the US, Medvedev stated, “Russia and Venezuela staunchly support the creation of modern and fair world order, so that our future doesn’t depend on the will and the liking of just one country, its welfare and mood.” Medvedev went on, “A deal in the atomic sphere has just been signed. I already know that it will make someone shudder. I would like to underline that our intentions are clean and open: we want out partner the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to have a full range of energy choices, to have energy independence.”

            According to Chavez, the two countries share a “strategic partnership” and a vision of a world free of overwhelming US influence. “We are still too dependent on oil because the Yankee empire imposed this model on us,” Chavez said, blaming the US for Venezuela’s dependence on oil and gas. While building the nuclear reactors in Venezuela defies the US’ and other countries’ concerns, Chavez insists that “nothing will stop us” from developing nuclear power.

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