China affirms plans for nuclear new build in Argentina

5 July 2016

China and Argentina on 1 July signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) reaffirming plans to construct two new nuclear power reactors in Argentina with finance from Chinese banks. Last November, Argentina signed deals with China for the construction of its fourth and fifth nuclear units: a third Candu pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) at the Atucha site and a pressurised water reactor (PWR) at an unspecified site. The projects are worth around $15bn and China will contribute 85% of the necessary funds, according to a statement from Argentine president's office at the time.

An MOU affirming the November agreement - made under the previous government of then-president Cristina Fernandez - was signed in Beijing by Argentina's minister of energy and mining Juan José Aranguren and Nur Bekri, director of China's National Energy Administration. A document from the Argentine ministry said Argentina and China were committed "to speed up negotiations to begin construction of the first of the two agreed units for the first quarter of 2017 and the second by 2019."

In July 2014, China and Argentina had signed a high-level agreement for possible construction of a third PHWR at the Atucha NPP. Two PHWRs are already operating at the plant. Under the agreement, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) will assist Argentina's nuclear utility, Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NA-SA), by providing goods and services under long-term financing. That agreement was ratified in February 2015. The accord provides for NA-SA - holder of rights to Candu technology - to be designer, architect-engineer, builder and operator of the new reactor.



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