President Hugo Chávez announced a deal for Russia to build a nuclear power station in Venezuela and establishing a bi-national bank.
“Venezuela is on its way to getting nuclear power. I hardly need to say so, but I’ll say it anyway: for peaceful purposes, of course” said Mr Chávez during his ninth visit to Moscow. “They’ll say that we are going to build atomic bombs. No we are not…nothing is going to stop us, we are free, sovereign and independent.”
“Our intentions are absolutely pure and open: we want our partner Venezuela to have a full range of energy possibilities” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in support of his peer.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, said that Russia declined to be specific about the time-frame for the construction of the power station. “Maybe in 10 years, maybe earlier” he said.
Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s energy minister, specified that the nuclear power plant to be built in Venezuela by Russian engineers would have a generation capacity of 500MW. Russia would also help Venezuela build a research reactor to produce isotopes for peaceful industries and medicine.
Russia and Venezuela have cultivated an increasingly close relationship in recent years in their effort to counterbalance US power and boost commercial ties, leading to a series of energy agreements and major weapons sales.
Laying the foundation stone for a statue in Moscow of Simón Bolívar, the Venezuelan independence hero – whom Mr Chávez’s “Bolivarian revolution” is named after – Venezuela’s fiercely anti-capitalist president said Russia and Venezuela were working together to put an end to “imperialism”.
Without giving details President Chávez said weapons deals had also been agreed.
Last month, Russia approved 2.2 billion US dollars in credit to Caracas to finance the purchase of 92 Soviet-era T-72 tanks, short-range missiles and an anti-aircraft weapons system. Venezuela has bought more than 4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including fighter jets, helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.