Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner and planning minister Julio De Vido have announced plans to revive the country’s nuclear programme after a twelve year moratorium on nuclear development.

Under the programme the government plans to complete the construction of the Atucha II nuclear station, currently about 80% built, conduct feasibility studies on the construction of a fouth nuclear power plant, extend the life of the Embalse plant which is currently due to close by 2011, and perhaps most controversially reactivate the production of enriched uranium at the Pilcaniyeu technological complex.

A major driver behind the plans are the present natural gas supply bottleneck, and the energy restrictions presently suffered by industry.

Presently Atucha I in Buenos Aires province and Embalse in Cordoba Province provide some 9% of the national energy production. Development, design, construction and operation of the 750 MWe Atucha II will be carried out by Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) and Nucleoelectrica Argentina (NASA). The plant is expected to be commercially operating by 2010, with an additional investment of $600 million.

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