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Bolivian Vice President Calls for Mastery
of the "Sacred Fire" of Nuclear Power

August 2014

Marcello Casal Jr/Agencia Brasil.
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Álvaro Garcia Linera.

August 22, 2014—Alvaro Garcia Linera, Vice President of Bolivia, made a beautiful, rousing call on August 21 for Bolivia to play its rightful role as a Promethean nation, and set about to master nuclear energy, so as to create the platform for his nation's technological development over the next 400-500 years. Garcia Linera's adamant statement that humanity can and must master atomic energy, as today's form of "sacred fire," was delivered in his speech closing the Seventh International Congress on Oil and Gas in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on August 21. A panel earlier in the day on nuclear energy, addressed by leading members of the Argentine nuclear program, had been a highpoint of the Congress, organized by the Bolivian Chamber of Hydrocarbons:

"The use of and training in atomic energy is one of our obligations as a society and as a State. We have made that decision, and we are going to guide ourselves based on that decision. In the coming years, we will implement a program of nuclear energy, for peaceful purposes, with medical and agricultural goals, as the case may be, but we will have an elite, a core of brains, integrated with the world, to networks who work in the atomic field, which will allow Bolivia to learn about and use this fire of the 21st century: atomic energy," he said.

"Nuclear energy is the fire of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is the fire which our ancestors had 20,000 years ago, which allowed them to make philosophy, technical science, culture, agriculture. Knowledge of the atom, its regularities, its use, its functioning, is the touchstone of the 20th and 21st centuries, the fundamental core of new knowledge and new technologies, new theories and new means of production....

"Bolivia cannot remain on the periphery, if this is the case, if knowledge of the atom ... is the sacred fire of the 20th and 21st centuries, as fire was for the pre-agricultural civilizations of 20,000 years ago. Today a society which is respected --and we respect ourselves-- cannot remain on the periphery, and we are not going to remain on the periphery...

Site of the Atucha I and II nuclear power plants, about 100 km northwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on the southwest bank of the Paraná River north of the town of Lima (Zárate partition, Buenos Aires province). The Paraná River flows into the bay on whose southwest shore is Buenos Aires..

"Fire in itself is not the destroyer," he said, and nuclear energy is not the destroyer. It can be "a creative productive force of life or a destructive force."

"Nuclear energy exists independently of us. It functions in Nature, in the human body, in physical and chemical processes. The question, is if we have the ability, as society, to learn about it, to know it, to respect its force and to know how to use it collectively and humanly for beneficial purposes....

"Let us break the mental and colonial chains; break them! Let us dare to leave the cave, as our ancestors did 20,000 years ago. Let us dare to assume our responsiblity before the world, before our history and our society. Knowledge of nuclear energy is knowledge of the ABCs of nature....

Bolivia has "the technical, scientific and moral obligation to take responsibility for the knowledge, use, understanding and beneficial development of this fundamental force of Nature.

"It doesn't matter how long it takes us. We are going to do it, because we are convinced that that is how we cement the conditions for the technologicial development of Bolivians for the next 400 to 500 years."

Advances in Nuclear Energy Programs in Bolivia, India

As the present-day leaders of developed nations in Europe and North America have decided to move towards non-nuclear "green energy" sources such as wind, solar et al., nuclear power generation seems justifiably attractive to many less-developed nations.

In Bolivia, where the 7th Gas and Energy Conference opened on Thursday, nuclear power will be the central attraction, with leaders of Argentina's nuclear program heading the panel. Last year, this was the forum where the Bolivian President Evo Morales had announced his country's plan to go nuclear. The government intends to establish an advisory council by the end of this year to develop and oversee implementation of its nuclear commitment, and President Vladimir Putin offered Russia's help in establishing a comprehensive nuclear program, when he and President Morales met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil.

Meanwhile, reports from New Delhi indicate India is about to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan and Australia. Since 2005, India has entered into civil nuclear agreements with the U.S., Mongolia, Australia, Namibia, Argentina, the UK, Canada, Kazakhstan, and South Korea.

The Indian objectives are two-fold. To begin with, India, in order to make its indigenous Thorium-based pressurized reactors the main power generation source in the future, needs to pile-up a large amount of plutonium, the trigger used by India for converting fissionable thorium-232 to fissile uranium-233. Since its first 300 MW thorium-fueled reactor will be commissioned in 2015, India is in a hurry to commission a large number of pressurized heavy water reactors that use natural uranium (uranium-238) to generate plutonium.

In order to achieve that objective, India, a uranium-short nation, needs to import uranium. Following the signing of the cooperation agreement, Australia, with its third-largest uranium reserves, will supply uranium to India along with Canada, France, Russia, Mongolia, Namibia, and Kazakhstan.

The second objective for India is to import as many high-capacity heavy water reactors as possible. Canada, one of the largest producers of pressurized heavy water reactors, can export those reactors to India. South Korea, which manufactures 1,000 MW reactors, can supply them to India in its ongoing capacity program. But signing the civil nuclear agreement with Japan will provide India an access to turbines required for 1,000 MW capacity. Japan is the largest producer of those turbines.