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Russia agrees to build nuclear plant in Venezuela

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez speak during a signing ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow, on October 15, 2010. Moscow is the first stop for Chavez on a major international tour aimed at strengthening trade ties with several countries in eastern Europe and the Middle East, including Iran and Libya. (Photo : NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

 

October 16, 2010 (KATAKAMI / DDINEWS.GOV.IN) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reached a deal with Russia on Friday to build the South American country’s first nuclear plant, as questions arose why a nation rich in oil and gas would feel the need to venture into atomic energy.

The two nations also signed other energy agreements.

Russia has cultivated close ties with Chavez’s government to expand its global clout and counter US influence in Latin America.

Russia plans to build two 1,200 megawatt nuclear reactors at the Venezuelan plant.

The cost of Friday’s nuclear deal wasn’t immediately announced.

The deal is likely to raise concern in President Barack Obama’s administration but continues a pattern of Russia pressing to export its nuclear expertise.

It’s talking with Indian officials about building a dozen of nuclear reactors there and also wants to build a nuclear reactor in the Czech Republic.

Russia has just completed Iran’s first nuclear power plant and recently reached new deals to build nuclear reactors in China and Turkey.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sought to pre-empt questions about why Venezuela would need nuclear power by saying the deal would help Caracas reduce its dependence on global market fluctuations.

“I don’t know who will shudder at this,” Medvedev said at a news conference after the signing.

“The president (of Venezuela) said there will be nations that will have different emotions about that, but I would like to emphasise that our intentions are absolutely pure and open: We want our partner Venezuela to have a full range of energy possibilities.”

Venezuela relies on hydroelectric power for most of its electricity, and a severe drought last year and in early 2010 pushed the water level at country’s largest hydroelectric dam to perilous lows.

The lower levels, combined with a lack of adequate upgrades to the power grid, prompted rationing measures for a time, including rolling blackouts.

Chavez says nuclear power is part of his government’s plans for diversifying its energy sources.

 

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