Latin America also has Nuclear Reactors

Latin America also has a history with nuclear energies that goes beyond the current pacts

Nuclear power plant

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara

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On July 1 it was known about the violation of the Iranian treaty, called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, when the Middle East country confirmed that it had exceeded the amount of uranium that it is allowed to store, reaching 4.5% above the 3.7% agreed. Although the increase may not be so serious since developing nuclear weapons needs 80%, Iran has already threatened to continue with the construction of Arak, a reactor produced by plutonium, another of the ingredients to make nuclear weapons, according to EFE.

Leer en español: América Latina también tiene Reactores Nucleares

Also, Iran has already announced that it will keep violating the treaties every 60 days if the United States does not lift the sanctions, which directly affect oil production, one of the country's largest exports. Although tensions have increased between the United States and Iran, the conflict still does not reach a war context, according to Semana.

While the Iranian government initially claimed that the objective of the program was to develop nuclear energy capacity for peaceful purposes, today the reality seems to be different.

Around the world, there are 449 nuclear reactors, of which seven are in Latin America. However, it should be noted that there are two types of nuclear reactors: power and research.

For the chemical engineer, Fernando Modes, in dialogue with El Tiempo, the first one has a large amount of nuclear material to generate large amounts of energy and power to a city. In the latter, the properties of radiation that occur in nuclear reactions are used to make research techniques.

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Latin American countries with nuclear power plants

1. Argentina

The precursor of nuclear energy in Latin America, Argentina currently has three nuclear reactors, the first one operates since 1974. It is the Atucha I Nuclear Power Plant, located in the northwest of Buenos Aires. The second is the one that remains in the region of Córdoba, called El Embalse which operates since 1984; and finally Atucha II, which is also located northwest of the Argentine capital and was put into operation in 2014.

The three reactors, which use high pressure heavy water as a neutron moderator, generate about 6.2% of the energy supplied to the country, according to DW.


The South American giant was the second country to activate its nuclear reactors. It was Angra I, activated in 1982 and the second Angra II, in the year 2000. A third reactor is currently under construction and will also be located in Angra Dos-Reis, in Rio de Janeiro, as Sputnick states.

In this way, the two active plants generate around 3% of the country's energy and according to the same media "the active power plants have an electrical capacity of 1,990 megawatts, the new plant will have an additional 1,405 megawatts".


Mexico currently has a nuclear plant, called Laguna Verde, which has two generators, which were inaugurated in 1989 and 1994 and are located in the state of Veracruz. Until 2018, and according to the Nuklear Forum, it produces around 5% of the total energy; It also has a capacity of 1'552 MW.

Unlike the other countries, Mexico has not planned the construction of a new generator due to the strong criticism by environmentalists, who are against operations based on a cooling system, the same one used by Japan "which indicates that if they occur a series of natural events similar to those that occurred in the Asian country, we would surely be under those same circumstances," according to statements by the anti-nuclear group Madres Veracruzanas to DW.

Others with access to nuclear energy


In 2010, Venezuela signed a contract with Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant. At first, its main argument was the promotion of clean energy; however, after the events at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Chávez withdrew from the agreement.


Since 1974, Chile has a nuclear reactor operating at the La Reina Nuclear Study Center, it is the only one that is active since the one located in Valparaíso stopped its operation.

According to La Tercera, the reactor has a capacity of 5 MV and is used to produce radioactive elements used, above all, for medicine, mining and agriculture.


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After his visit to Russia, President Evo Morales signed several agreements highlighting the nuclear project that the Russians will carry out in Bolivian territory, as the BBC claimed. It is a complex in which the Nuclear Research and Development Center will also be located, and will be located 20 km from La Paz. The reactor is expected to be the highest in the world since it will be 4000 meters above sea level.

Since 2015, Bolivia and Russia have been working together to create a nuclear program and a year later the Bolivarian Agency for Nuclear Energy (ABEN) was created.


Colombia has a single nuclear reactor that was activated in 1965, deactivated in 1997 and re-ignited in 2007. It is part of the Institute of Geology and Mining and has the function "to examine the quality and quantity of biological resources such as oil, gold and coal in Colombia". In addition, it is used in the pharmaceutical industry for the identification of thyroid dysfunction, and in engineering, in the detection of leaks in hydroelectric dams, as stated by DW.

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