Bolivia to develop nuclear power with Argentina's help

LA PAZ (AFP) - Bolivian President Evo Morales said Thursday that, with Argentina's help, his country was working to develop nuclear power.

"We are working on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, for medical purposes," Morales said at the opening of a gas and energy seminar in Santa Cruz, some 900 kilometers east of La Paz.

"We salute the Argentine people as we have begun to work on nuclear energy."

Morales had previously indicated that his South American nation had plans to go nuclear with help from both Buenos Aires and France. But until now he had not indicated that steps were underway.

The leftist leader said he had been advised by Bolivian experts not to go public and therefore had begun bilateral discussions "in secret and behind closed doors."

The energy produced would be first and foremost for domestic consumption but could also be exported, according to Morales.

"Imagine the income Bolivia will get," he said.

In his speech, Morales also said it was important to develop nuclear energy because "the country that has control of energy is the country that has power, not the one that has missiles or a lot of silver."

In October 2010, Morales made public agreements with then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, an ally, for Iranian nuclear power plant technology.