Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Latin America Weighs Nuclear Energy Options

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 21, 2011

by David Gacs for Americas Society / Council of the Americas, March 20th, 2011.

Japan’s earthquake-induced nuclear crisis didn’t stop Chile and Washington from forging a nuclear energy pact on Friday, days before President Barack Obama’s planned touchdown in Santiago on March 21. But what was intended to be an accord heralded by the U.S. head of state and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera instead became a point of contention among officials and environmentalists in earthquake-prone Chile. Despite the controversy, Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno and the U.S. Ambassador to Chile Alejandro Wolff signed the nuclear cooperation deal March 18. Following worldwide calls for a review of nuclear power as a safe source of alternative energy, countries across Latin America are examining their nuclear facilities and plans—even as Japan rushes to contain a disaster.

Chile has no active nuclear reactors, and the Piñera administration says it has no concrete plans to build any. “The only thing we signed today is an agreement that says Chile can exchange information, knowledge, seminars, and send professionals to train in the nuclear energy field,” said Chilean Mines and Energy Minister Laurence Golborne on Friday. The government continues to state that, in large part due to the lengthy amount of time nuclear infrastructure takes to build, it will not be the Piñera administration that will decide whether Chile goes nuclear. But increased energy production and independence remain a priority due to their direct ties to economic growth. Chile, a net energy importer, recently signed nuclear-cooperation agreements with France and Argentina. (continue reading… )

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