CARACAS, Venezuela – A nuclear reactor that Venezuela plans to build with Russian help will be used to generate electricity and for medical and industrial purposes — not to make weapons, according to an agreement published Wednesday.
The accord, which appeared in the Venezuelan Official Gazette, sets limits on the enrichment of uranium and says the reactor will not be used for "any military objective."
Russia's government agreed to help Venezuela build the reactor last month during a visit to Moscow by President Hugo Chavez. It is unclear how much the project will cost, or when it could be completed.
Approved by the Venezuelan National Assembly, the agreement says the Russian company Atomstroyexport will provide nuclear fuel, parts and technical assistance to maintain the reactor.
Chavez has brushed aside the concerns of some critics who question the project, saying: "Our intentions are absolutely transparent and open."
He has said that his government — a major oil exporter — hopes to diversify its energy sources in the future. The South American country currently relies on hydroelectric power for most of its electricity.
When asked last month about the Venezuela-Russia nuclear agreement, President Barack Obama told journalists in Washington: "When it comes to nuclear power, our attitude is that Venezuela has rights to peacefully develop nuclear power. It also has obligations to make sure that it's not engaging in proliferation activities and is not weaponizing those systems."
Obama said the U.S. government has "one standard that we apply to all countries, and we expect them to abide by those standards."