Chavez Building Reactor With Russian Support

Only for 'peaceful purposes,' Chavez insists
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2008 4:30 AM CDT
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to develop nuclear energy in co-operation with Russia. It is seen as another challenge to Washington by Chavez.   (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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(Newser) – 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.