China & Russia Strengthen Nuclear Cooperation With Argentina

A high-level delegation from China’s National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) met on Sept. 11 with Argentine officials, led by Planning Minister Julio De Vido and Dr. Norma Boero, president of Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA), to discuss Chinese participation in building Argentina’s next nuclear reactor, bidding on which will take place later this year, as well as expanding China’s ties with Argentina’s nuclear energy program.

Officials from Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, have also met with officials from the CNEA and Planning Ministry, and the company will be bidding as well for the contract to build Argentina’s next reactor, which will be fueled by enriched uranium. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed strengthening nuclear cooperation between the two countries with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, at the September G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. Rosatom has just signed an agreement with the University of Buenos Aires’s Engineering School, aimed at encouraging more students to study the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

Chinese officials, among other things, are very interested in the progress of Argentina’s 25MW modular nuclear reactor, Carem, a prototype of which is scheduled to be finished this year or early next year. The small, wholly-Argentine built reactor is ideally suited for less-developed parts of the country, but Argentina eventually plans to export it to other developing- sector nations which don’t have the capability to develop their own nuclear programs.

The Sept. 11 meeting was the follow-up to a January 2013 one between CNNC and NASA, the Argentine company that builds reactors, during which details of further cooperation were mapped out. The CNNC delegation, which also included officials of the Zhongyuan Chinese Engineering Corporation (CZEC), and the Chinese Corporation of the Energy Engineering Group (CPECC), stressed China’s ability to offer Argentina its scientific and technological expertise, with a special emphasis on technology transfer. The Chinese officials visited the Bariloche Atomic Center and the Atucha II reactor.

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