Russia opens two nuclear research facilities closer to US in horror Cold War move | Science | News

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The news comes as Russia seeks to expand its influence in pro-Moscow countries, with Bolivia traditionally pushing against US influence in South America, allowing Russia to extend its hand to such nations which enjoy close proximity to the US. With the plants being implemented in the South American nation, the potential for a direct route to the US is as little as just 5,000km, halving the distance from Russia to Florida.

The move has been completed by the Russian energy giant Rosatom which has put into trial operation the first industrial facilities of the nuclear research and technology centre according to the state corporation announcement on Monday.

A pre-clinical cyclotron radiopharmaceutical complex and a multi-purpose irradiation centre have been launched in El Alto.

The preclinical cyclotron-radiopharmaceutical complex, equipped with a cyclotron, is expected to provide Bolivian nuclear medicine centres with radiopharmaceuticals for clinical trials of more than 5,000 patients a year.

According to Rosatom: “Thus, Bolivian citizens will be able to undergo timely and high-quality medical examinations with the help of advanced nuclear medicine preparations.”

Putin and Rosatom

Russia will gain a foothold in South America with the project (Image: Getty)

Rosatom Concerns

Concerns have been raised about Russia’s motives with the project (Image: Getty)

Critics of the deal are concerned Russia’s motives over the project may lead to more malicious activity reminiscent of the Cuba Missile Crisis seen during the Cold War.

According to one commentator, Joseph Bouchard: ” The bid is wrapped in controversy given Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

“Energy and mining firms like Uranium One/Rosatom have a stake in the invasion, as they have moved quickly into Ukrainian territory to secure natural resources and extraction-conversion plants.

“Finland has already cancelled its nuclear-energy deal with Uranium One/Rosatom over the invasion.

“Bolivia should follow suit and not move forward with the Uranium One/Rosatom bid for its lithium.

“Were the Luis Arce government to accept the Russian bid, Bolivia would promptly become a pariah state on the regional and international stage.”

Nuclear Medicine

The initial project will be used for nuclear medicine (Image: Getty)

Lithium

Russia may also use the ties to bid for Bolivian lithium (Image: Getty)

However, Rosatom says the plan will benefit various Bolivian sectors, from medicine to food security.

It said: “The Center will ensure the widespread use of nuclear and radiation technologies in agriculture, medicine, industry and other important areas of human life, not only in Bolivia , but throughout the region.

In addition to the cyclotron-radiopharmacological complex and the multi-purpose irradiation centre, the CNIT will be equipped with a reactor facility based on a research pressurized water reactor with a nominal power of 200 kW.”

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Luis Arce

Luis Arce has campaigned for Lithium to be the basis for economy growth (Image: Getty)

Any Russian nuclear involvement in South America could spark concerns Moscow will use the opportunity to build closer ties with nations in close range to the US.

The Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s saw fears reach a critical point during the Cold War, with Americans in genuine fear of a nuclear strike by Soviet missiles.

Several Latin American countries have shown open opposition to US influence in the region, pushing them towards non-aligned and Russian allies in the process.

Venezuela saw President Maduro blame the US for an attempted coup in trying to place Juan Guaidó into power.

Yet Putin has found some measure of support in Latin America from the governments of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua as a result, with Bolivia now seemingly following suit.

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Vaccine

Russian used the Covid pandemic to spread its influence in Latin America (Image: Getty)

The pandemic provided one broad opportunity. Russia developed one of the first COVID-19 vaccines and delivered it to Argentina, Bolivia and to other countries that had limited access to other options.

Trade between Russia and Latin America has also been growing, though it barely registers compared with China’s economic footprint in the region.

The Sputnik vaccine was widely deployed in the region during the height of the pandemic, further cementing ties between Moscow and pro-Putin states.

Speaking to the LA Times, Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center in Washington said: “Russia has an interest in meddling in what has traditionally been considered a U.S. sphere of influence.”

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