Bolivia and Russia finalized plans Wednesday to build a peaceful nuclear research center in the South American country.
The Bolivian minister of energy met with a delegation of the Russian State Nuclear Corporation, Rosatom, to solidify construction plans for the El Alto Center.
“For now we are going at a good pace in the completion of the project, which will have its headquarters in the city of El Alto, and we want to accelerate the deadlines to begin building,” Russian Ambassador to Bolivia Alexei Sazonov said, HispanTV reports.
Sazonov added that Russian scientists will train their Bolivian counterparts in using advanced nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, such as energy, medicine, and civil engineering. Russia will award 20 state-funded scholarships to train young Bolivian scientists once the nuclear research center is constructed later this year.
An exact date for the completion of the El Alto Center has not been announced.
The Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency, ABEN, and Rosatom signed a pact to build the nuclear research center last March. Both countries are also expected to sign several energy cooperation contracts later this year at the IV Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, which will be held in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz.
Bolivia has maintained strong relations with Russia since President Evo Morales took office in 2006. Most of their bilateral cooperation has been in the fields of energy, medicine, and technology.
Bolivia’s socialist government has also defended Russia’s progressive role in Latin America. Criticizing the country’s right-wing opposition, Morales said the U.S. has instructed them to try and stop Bolivian alliances with countries like Russia and China.
“The Bolivian Right will attack all Chinese companies on instructions of the U.S. empire. The U.S. empire does not want to see the presence of China and Russia (in Bolivia),” Morales said during a presidential address last March.
Morales has also spoken out against rumors created by the right-wing opposition aimed at “destabilizing its (Russian) operations and halting the progress of emerging technological powers, who the U.S. see as a threat to its influence in South America.”
In 2009, the Bolivian government constructed a technical support and repair facility for Russian aircraft at a former U.S. military base.