Russia's Ambassador to Buenos Aires Dmitry Feoktistov has confirmed his country's intention to build two nuclear power plants in Argentina and press sources at the Casa Rosada presidential palace have not denied it, although the project is yet to be officially endorsed by the administration of President Alberto Fernández.
Cooperation between Argentina and Russia is running smoothly since the purchase of Sputnik V anti-coronavirus vaccines and the agreement to produce them locally soon.
Of the two projected plants Russia allegedly intends to support financially, one would be located on the Argentine mainland while the other, a more ambitious one, would be placed at sea.
”Among the projects that we proposed to (Economy) Minister Martín Guzmán and the government is to build a floating nuclear power plant, which could be located anywhere in the vast Argentine territory, Feoktistov said in a TV interview. There is only one such plant in the world and it is also Russian. It is located off the Russian coast on the Arctic Sea since May last year.
The diplomat described the option as a joint venture in which Argentina should supply the shipping and Russia would be in charge of “the nuclear reactors.
But Argentina's Economy and the Foreign Ministry have admitted to not know such a project.
The Russian mainland plant would be similar to the one-China already has in the Argentine province of Neuquén, Feoktistov explained and his versions are believed to be consistent with Argentine Economy Minister Martín Guzmán's visit to the Russian company Rosatom in recent weeks.
Russian interest in Argentina dates back to the presidencies of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015) and there was also some diplomatic exchange under Mauricio Macri (2015-2019) but the Vladimir Putin administration sees the new rapprochement through the Sputnik V vaccine as a renewed opportunity to pick things up where they had just been left.
We proposed to build the plant, own it and operate it, said Feoktistov. ”These are projects that can cost 10 billion dollars or more, and Russia is willing to pay everything so that Argentina does not (need to spend) a single peso,” which in turn raises doubts about the control Argentina may later have over the plant itself.
According to the project, Argentina would cede the land for the construction, operation and subsequent maintenance of the plant in exchange for between 20 and 30 years of electricity for a fixed price. If we agree, it is to serve both parties, now Argentina has the ball, said the diplomat who has been in Buenos Aires since 2018 and is believed to be one of Putin's most trusted dignitaries in Latin America.
Russia is also pushing projects in other areas before President Fernández, such as initiatives to reform 550 km of roads and build another 150 km on the route between Bahía Blanca and Vaca Muerta. And for that, Russia would be willing to supply Argentina with the “most modern and suitable military weapons,” according to Feoktistov.