Bolivia says it's on track to develop nuclear power

Nov. 19, 2013 at 6:16 PM
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LA PAZ, Bolivia, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Bolivia is on track to develop a national nuclear power program for peaceful civilian purposes that include building electricity export capacity in the country, official media reported.

Ever since Bolivian President Evo Morales outlined plans in October for a long-delayed nuclear power generation program, officials in La Paz have been pursuing follow-up discussions with Argentina, a future partner and experienced nuclear power producer, Bolivian news reports said.

Bolivia's nuclear energy approach is evolving into a two-pronged policy that's set to lead to a more vigorous government pursuit of a domestic nuclear power generation program and exploration, development and export of the country's numerous deposits, reports in Los Tiempos and other local media said.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna notes on its website that not all data about Bolivia's uranium deposits are readily available.

Morales told an energy conference in Tarija, southern Bolivia, in October the country has achieved conditions necessary to obtain nuclear power for "pacific ends," Los Tiempos reported. Morales did not elaborate, nor did he offer details when he announced Argentina and France would help Bolivia attain nuclear power generation capacity.

Argentina, a longtime nuclear power producer, is building new capacity as it struggles with dwindling oil resources and lackluster results in its quest for conventional new oil apart from several planned shale oil projects. Argentina and Bolivia declared their nuclear power partnership in a deal announced in May.

Morales said Bolivia would go ahead with the program despite opposition from "some countries" with nuclear power that don't want others to have it -- a reference to stated U.S. reservations on Bolivia's plans.

Bolivia's nuclear ambitions were put under a spotlight after Israeli pronouncements the country's planned collaboration with Iran signaled the start of a nuclear weapons program. Bolivia denied the accusation.

Morales took swipes at environmentalist campaigns opposing the country's plans to develop hydro-electric and renewable energy. He called the opposition "ecological fundamentalism" that blocked development, reported.

Some non-government organizations, Morales said, "oppose everything. They will not let us work, they will not let us explore, they will not let us industrialize, not even to develop hydroelectric plants."

Despite the campaigns, Morales said, Bolivia will continue to pursue expansion of energy diversification, including exploration for new oil and development of uranium reserves in Potosi in the Tomas Frias province.

Founded by Europeans in 1545 as a mining town, Potosi was the source for colonial Spain's plunder of the region's silver deposits until Bolivia's formal independence in 1847. Plans for uranium exploration and development are still in early stages.

Topics: Evo Morales
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