HAVANA -- (AFP) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro has announced that work
on the country's Juragua nuclear reactor, which was begun with Soviet aid, has
been suspended indefinitely.
It will be ``a long time, a very long time'' before construction is restarted,
said Monday in a speech to the Fifth National Congress of Committees for the
Defense of the Revolution.
But he attacked U.S. hostility to the project, saying Washington was prepared
cooperate on nuclear technology with North Korea and sell nuclear technology to
The announcement appeared to mark the end of the project and the accompanying
political wrangle with Washington.
Although work has been suspended on Juragua since 1992, a few months after
Soviet Union collapsed, Cuban authorities periodically discussed resurrecting the
project, provoking protests from Washington.
In March of last year Moscow alluded to the possibility of a resumption
on the reactor, although it has not taken any action in the following months.
At this point, the Cuban government no longer considers nuclear power the
solution to the island's chronic shortage of electricity.
Workers still maintain the construction site in Cienfuegos province on
southern coast, using a Russian grant of $30 million made in 1993.
The reactor, begun in 1980, has cost $1 billion so far, and it would cost
additional $750 million and four years to finish it, according to official estimates.
Washington is fiercely opposed to having a nuclear reactor less than 200
from the Florida Keys.
But the Cubans have always argued that the technology of the Juragua reactor
different from Chernobyl and that their security measures would prevent a
repetition of the 1986 Ukrainian disaster in the Caribbean.
Copyright © 1998 The Miami Herald