Monday, September 29, 2008

Chavez eyes Russia nuclear help

Hugo Chavez - 28/09/2008
Mr Chavez said he wanted nuclear power for energy and medical uses

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he wants to develop a civilian nuclear power programme with Russia's help.

Mr Chavez emphasised that he wanted nuclear power only for peaceful ends, citing energy and medical purposes.

His remarks follow last week's comments by Russian PM Vladimir Putin that Moscow was ready to consider nuclear co-operation with Venezuela.

Such a move would be likely to increase US concerns at the growing ties between the two nations, correspondents say.

"We certainly are interested in developing nuclear energy, for peaceful ends of course, for medical purposes and to generate electricity," Mr Chavez told a political rally in Caracas.

"Brazil has various nuclear reactors, as does Argentina. We will have ours and Vladimir told the media: Russia is ready to help Venezuela develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends," he said, adding that a commission was already working on the issue.

Naval exercise

President Chavez was speaking after a global tour last week that included a stop in Russia.

During his visit, Mr Chavez signed accords on energy co-operation with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr Putin also indicated that Russia "was ready to consider the possibility" of working with Venezuela to build nuclear power facilities.

Russia and Venezuela have been increasing their ties in recent months. Russian warships are currently en route to the Caribbean Sea for joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy.

Venezuela is one of the best customers of the Russian defence industry, signing weapons contracts worth some $4.4bn (£2.39bn).

A staunch critic of the US, Mr Chavez backed Russian intervention in Georgia and has accused Washington of being scared of Moscow's "new world potential".

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