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CFK confirms Russia will build nuclear plant

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner looks at a large picture of Eva Duarte de Perón yesterday, as she attends the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition titled Eva Perón — Ambassador of Peace at Russia’s State Historical Museum in Moscow.
President to sign agreement with Putin today during state visit that seeks to deepen ties

Russia will build a sixth nuclear reactor in Argentina, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said yesterday during her official visit to the country.

“We will sign an agreement with (President Vladimir) Putin the agreement for the sixth nuclear plant,” Fernández de Kirchner said yesterday. “We believe that nuclear energy will be a trend across the world due to cost.”

Russian officials confirmed the imminent agreement.

“A memorandum of understanding on the project is ready and expected to be signed after negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Fernández de Kirchner at the Kremlin (today),” presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said yesterday.

Russian officials highlighted that this was only the latest example of Moscow’s involvement in Argentina’s energy sector.

“Argentina uses Russian equipment to generate more than 20 percent of electric energy. Cooperation with Russia ranges from delivery of turbines to complete modernization of Argentinian hydropower plants,” Ushakov added.

Fernández de Kirchner is currently on a two-day visit to Russia with the hope of deepening economic ties between the two nations. Yesterday, she addressed a group of Argentine and Russian business leaders currently investing in the country.

“There are no borders to politics or the economy” she said in Moscow yesterday. “We are here to build relationships with businesses, because Argentina is a place for investment.” Developing Russian investment in Argentina is a key reason for her visit, with energy high on the list of priorities.

A year later

The president’s visit to Moscow comes less than a year after Putin, on a corresponding state visit to Buenos Aires last year, signed an agreement that witnessed the expansion of nuclear reactors in the country from two to three with Russian guidance.

Yesterday’s announcement of a sixth reactor — to be built at the Atucha nuclear station — follows an agreement made in February this year with Chinese nuclear firm China National Nuclear, who will build Argentina’s fourth and fifth nuclear plants at a cost of US$5.8 billion and US$7 billion respectively. The deal was brokered by Fernández de Kirchner on her state visit to China.

Alongside the announcement of plans for a sixth reactor, executives of Russian nuclear company Rosatom-TVEL signed a new agreement with Argentine technology firm INVAP (National Institute of Applied Research) to provide nuclear fuel for reactors currently producing energy in Argentina. Rosatom is one of five suppliers for Argentina’s nuclear supplies.

“Russia is moving forward in Latin America and has signed agreements with Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela in the nuclear and military sectors. Thus, there seems to be incentives from all sides to move in this direction which reflects each sides’ pragmatic moves” Federico Merke, director of the political science and international relations programmes at the San Andres University in Argentina, said yesterday.

A further point of interest during the president’s official visit concerns the Vaca Muerta shale gas reserve in Neuquén province. Russian officials have expressed interest in the newly discovered reserve, thought to be one of the largest in the world, and Russian state oil giant Gazprom is expected to be part of a deal for a joint venture on the reserve alongside its Argentine counterpart YPF.

Bilateral trade

Meanwhile, both countries will hope to secure a deepening of bilateral trade ties in other areas. Russia’s ban on agricultural and food imports from many key Western states in the wake of the Ukraine crisis last year has led to shortages in the domestic food industry, about 40 percent of which is reliant on imports. As such, Argentina as a world leader in food and agriculture imports may step in and offer a trade deal involving key agricultural produce.

During the meeting with business leaders in Moscow yesterday, President Fernández de Kirchner also praised the introduction of Russian state-run news channel RT (Russia Today) to Argentina, which began airing in October last year. A Spanish language version of RT now reaches over 80 percent of Argentina’s population of 42 million people.

“In fact, we are very grateful to RT, because people in different countries need a more complete coverage of what is happening around the globe — not just a subjective point of view on events in a particular region, which is being imposed on us,” she said.

Herald with online media

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