In his latest challenge to Washington, Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez has announced that his nation is developing a nuclear reactor—with Russian support, Reuters reports. "We are interested in development of nuclear energy, of course for peaceful purposes—for medical purposes, for electricity," Chavez said yesterday at a political rally. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered to help with a reactor, and "we already have a commission working on this issue," he added.
Venezuela abandoned previous efforts to develop a nuclear reactor under US pressure. Chavez has supported Iran's nuclear program, despite widespread condemnation. He expelled the US ambassador last month. Russia is becoming a major new player in the tensions between the US and Venezuela, stepping up cooperation with Chavez after the US and other Western nations condemned Russia's incursion into Georgia.