[Marxism] Venezuela to go nuclear: US upset (of course).

nada dwaltersMIA at gmail.com
Wed Sep 16 09:11:44 MDT 2009

It seems the 21st Century Socialism is going to include a nuclear 
component, at least in Venezuela.

 From AP:
CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez wants to join the nuclear energy club 
and is looking to Russia for help in getting started.

The Venezuelan leader is already dismissing critics' concerns over his 
nuclear ambitions, offering assurances his aims are peaceful and that 
Venezuela will simply be following in the footsteps of other South 
American nations using atomic energy.

Chavez noted:

"I say it before the world: Venezuela is going to start the process of 
developing nuclear energy, but we're not going to make an atomic bomb, 
so don't be bothering us afterward ... (with) something like what they 
have against Iran," Chavez said Sunday.

The socialist president is closely allied with Iran and defends its 
nuclear program while the U.S. and other countries accuse Tehran of 
having a secret nuclear weapons program.

"We're going to develop nuclear energy with peaceful aims as Brazil, 
Argentina have," Chavez said.

The socialist government in Caracas is going to start at 'zero' point as 
they have virtually no experience in nuclear physics. The have some 
engineers but no infrastructure to speak of. This means that building 
nuclear plants in Venezuela is way, way off.

So the question is why do they want to go nuclear? Venezuela is a member 
of a very small group of countries that include Ecuador, Brazil and a 
few others where at least 70% of their electrical energy comes from 
basically carbon-free hydro-electric power. As Chavez notes, Brazil get 
some of it's power from nuclear...about 3% but they are in the process 
of tripling it. So is Argentina.

Brazil and Venezuela have unique problems...all their hydro electric 
power is far away from where it is used. Thus costs to transmit the 
power with little 'line loss' over great distances are very expensive. 
Brazil is building a 4,000 km high voltage DC line through the Amazon 
jungle. A lot of things can happen, and do, when these transmission 
lines fail in the essentially the middle of now where. Lights go out, 
people suffer.

In Venezuela, almost every national black out that has occurred over the 
last 3 years was the result of failure of these transmission lines to 
the Caracas/Zulia areas. Their relatively small number of fossil plants 
(oil and gas) can't handle the load and they also end up going off line.

So the idea of both Brazil and Venezuela is to "balance their load", 
that is to balance the source of energy regionally so as not to have 
rely on one area to generate all it's power as both countries do now.

Venezuela also has a big incentive for the smaller, more advanced 
reactors one model of which is now being built in China. These reactors 
about 1/10th the size of the bigger ones other countries are building 
now but they put out 'high quality process heat' not just electricity. 
These smaller reactors can be used to create heat for to 
thermo-chemically break down the heavy crude from Venezuela's vast 
Orinoco River oil development projects. Right now PDVSA uses prodigious 
amounts of natural gas (that could be sold) and...oil (that could also 
be sold)...to refine and make available the think tar-sand like oil 
ubiquitous to the region. This doubles the CO2 out put of this oil when 
it's burned in US and other countries automobiles.

So developing nuclear energy in Venezuela is a smart move on many levels.

Now, of course, the US government will position itself, again, as the 
leading anti-nuclear-anything force in the world. The AP dispatch of 
course cites the normal anti-Venezuelan propaganda about proliferation. 
Defending Venezuela's right to use nuclear energy to address it's many 
energy problems should be no-brainer for any solidarity activist.

D. Walters

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