With an initial investment of 3.5 billion US dollars Argentina is relaunching an eight year nuclear energy development program with the purpose of increasing the number of atomic plants plus resumption of uranium enrichment production.
The first stage of the "Argentine Nuclear Plan" announced Wednesday includes finishing the Atucha II plant, building a fourth atomic unit and returning to the world market with nuclear related equipments and services to countries which lack the technology and infrastructure.
Australia earlier this year inaugurated a nuclear reactor which was supplied by Argentina in the late nineties.
In the eighties Argentina under strong international pressure was forced to cease production of enriched uranium, of which the country was a pioneer in Latinamerica.
Argentina was also the first in the region to have electricity generating nuclear plants, (two are currently on service) and developing nuclear technology for health, industry and scientific research purposes.
The plan which was announced Wednesday besides the conclusion of the Atucha II plant includes extending the life span of the Embalse nuclear plant, increasing heavy water production in the Neuquen plant of Arroyito and begin working on the commercial version of the Carem prototype reactor.
According to the Argentine press the resurrection of the Nuclear Plan is based on economic and political reasons.
Argentina desperately needs alternative energy resources to face the growing domestic demand for electricity, oil and gas and rapidly declining hydrocarbons reserves.
Once Atucha II is finished in a couple of years, Argentina's Energy Secretary estimates that three million cubic metres per day will be liberated for industrial and residential consumption.
The plant is forecasted to consume 200 kilos of uranium per year, of which Argentina has an abundant supply plus technology and know-how dating back to the early fifties.
The construction of the fourth nuclear plant is scheduled to begin in 2010 with a generating capacity of 1.000 MW. Nuclear energy will also help Argentina comply with global regulations regarding CO2 emissions.
On the political side, Argentina will resume its leading regional role in nuclear technology development and alternative non contaminating energies.