CARACAS – President Hugo Chavez has announced a freeze in plans to develop nuclear power in Venezuela due to the growing emergency at a nuke plant in earthquake-stricken Japan.
“I ordered ... us to freeze the plans we’ve been moving forward on, very preliminary studies, for the peaceful Venezuelan nuclear program,” said Chavez at a ceremony to sign several agreements with a Chinese company.
The president said that while “the magnitude (of the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima plant) is still not precisely known,” the events there will certainly alter plans surrounding this form of energy production worldwide.
“It’s very sad what has been seen, a tragedy, a catastrophe. What’s happening in the last few hours is absolutely risky and dangerous for the entire world,” said Chavez with regard to the ongoing events in Japan.
The nuclear crisis, added to the food crisis, “which is growing every day in the world,” he said, “will give a greater impulse to resorting to petroleum.”
Venezuela, by some measures, has the world’s largest oil reserves.
The food crisis is reflected, Chavez said in a nationally broadcast speech, in the tripling of prices for products such as wheat, and “without doubt it also puts at risk the program for so-called biofuels.”
The Venezuelan government last Friday expressed its solidarity with – and offered help to – Japan after the magnitude-9.0 quake and accompanying tsunami that are feared to have caused as many as 10,000 deaths. EFE