Energy

Castro’s Cuba Is Getting Nuclear Reactors From Putin’s Russia

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A Russian government-controlled company signed an agreement to sell nuclear technology to Cuba this week.

Cuba plans to purchase nuclear medical technology, radiation research, training for nuclear specialists, and staff to help manage radioactive waste. Ultimately, the country may purchase nuclear reactors and storage space for nuclear waste from Russia.

This is not the first time Cuba has attempted to build a nuclear reactor. With the help and financial assistance of the former Soviet Union, Cuba tried the to build two 440-megawatt nuclear power reactors near the city of Cienfuegos. Construction of the reactors began in 1983, but the collapse of the Soviet Union disrupted construction.

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro says that the country invested $1.1 billion into the project, and cost estimates to complete the partially constructed reactors range from $300 million to $750 million. The U.S. government has consistently opposed Cuba’s plans to build a nuclear reactor, although President Barack Obama recently normalized relations with the country.

Russia has a long history of selling nuclear technology to unstable regimes that aren’t fond of the U.S.

“There are prospects for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy,” Yury Ushakov, aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told journalists. “Our company, which has the most advanced technologies, is ready to join the project on construction of 16 nuclear power reactors in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The project is provided until 2030 [and] its cost is $100 billion.”

Russia and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement last year to work together on “peaceful” nuclear energy projects despite terrorism concerns. Saudi Arabia has a long history of terrorist attacks within its borders, and the country itself has been accused of directly funding Islamic terrorism. The planned reactors would be incredibly vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The stated purpose of the Saudi reactors is to power desalination plants, generate electricity, and reduce domestic oil consumption so the country can sell oil abroad. The reactors would not produce the weapons-grade plutonium necessary to make a nuclear weapon, but materials from them could be used to create dirty bombs. The reactors will be built by the Russian government-controlled Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Cooperation.

Russia has also supported the development of nuclear power in other countries with terrorist threats, such as Algeria, Iran and Egypt.

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