In a radio interview broadcast on April 15, acting Russian Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Reshetnikov assailed the United States for its opposition to plans by Russia to complete the Juragua nuclear power plant in Cuba. Reshetnikov dismissed U.S. complaints that the plant could pose an environmental danger to southern regions of the United States. He also said that the plant would be safer than some nuclear power plants currently operating in Florida. Finally, Reshetnikov slammed U.S. lawmakers for legislation that would introduce sanctions against countries — including Russia — participating in the Juragua construction project. (Voice of Russia, April 15)
Construction of the Juragua plant began in the early 1980s but stalled due to financial problems in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Efforts to revive the estimated $700 million project have been equally problematic for the cash-strapped Cuban government. Efforts to fund the project through an international consortium have also yielded meager results. During a visit to Cuba by Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu in February, Moscow nevertheless reiterated its desire to follow through on the plant’s construction. In March, a Russian nuclear energy official conveyed the same message. He also said, however, that it would take up to two years of negotiations and another two or three years of construction to complete the facility. (AP, March 30)
Some reports have said that the plant, which is ultimately to be equipped with two VVER-440 light water reactors, is already 80 percent complete. The United States has opposed the project on the grounds that it would pose an environmental danger to countries in the region.
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