LA PAZ – President Evo Morales said on Thursday that Bolivia will launch its civilian nuclear energy program this year, a project that will include the construction of plants in the western province of La Paz and an investment outlay of more than $2 billion through 2025.
Morales, who made the announcement during the signing of a contract with a Spanish company for the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, reiterated that the program is for “peaceful ends.”
“A country that has energy (self-sufficiency) is a free country. It’s an independent country. The best way for us to become free as well is having nuclear energy for peaceful ends,” he added.
The announcement comes a week after state-owned Corporacion Minera de Bolivia said it found a uranium deposit in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, although its size is not yet known.
Among the peaceful ends of the nuclear program, Morales, who is seeking re-election this month and is on course for an easy first-round victory, mentioned medical and agricultural research.
He also added that a PET/CT cyclotron facility, a type of particle accelerator; a nuclear power reactor; and a nuclear research reactor will be installed in the Andean province of La Paz.
This year, Bolivia’s government has repeatedly defended its right to a nuclear energy program.
In January, Morales began his ninth year in office saying the country’s nuclear program is a “strategic priority” because Bolivia wants “to contribute to the life and humanity of the world.”
Russia, Iran, Argentina and France are potential partners of Bolivia in this effort.