President Hugo Chávez announced today that he is freezing plans to develop nuclear energy in light of the events currently unfolding in Japan. This past October, Chávez signed a deal with a Russian company to build a nuclear power plant over the next decade. Highlighting the dangers of nuclear technology, despite technological advancements, Chávez has put those plans on hold. “Despite the great technology and advances that Japan has, look at what is happening with some of its nuclear reactors,” he stated. The president also noted that increased concern for the safety of nuclear power will boost demand for Venezuelan oil exports.
Venezuela’s hold on its nuclear energy plans follows China’s announcement that they would also be putting a hold on the construction of 27 new nuclear energy plants, almost half of new nuclear power plant construction worldwide, while they reviewed safety regulations.
Despite concern over nuclear energy triggered by the catastrophe in Japan, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera announced that Chile will forge ahead with a nuclear cooperation deal with the U.S. due to be signed during President Obama’s trip to Santiago next week. Piñera noted that Chile’s energy demands required the country to keep the option of nuclear energy open despite recent events. “Chile needs to learn about nuclear energy, and that is why we have signed accords with France and Argentina and we will sign another with the US,” Piñera announced following a meeting with the Japanese ambassador during which he expressed Chile’s condolences.