(above) President Evo Morales reassured public that controversial project, which will use Russian technology and help from Argentina, will not harm environment

Bolivia plans to build $300m nuclear complex with research reactor


La Paz, Bolivia (AFP) — Bolivia has announced plans to build a $300m nuclear complex, including a research reactor, with Russian technology and help from Argentina.

President Evo Morales told reporters the center will include a cyclotron for radiopharmaeuticals, a multi-purpose gamma irradiation plant and a research reactor.

The project has drawn criticism from opposition politicians and raised public fears over the environmental impacts of the project.

But Morales insisted: "It poses no risk to humans or to mother Earth."

"It doesn't contaminate the ground, nor water, nor air."

The government initially planned to establish the research complex on the outskirts of La Paz, but protests by residents of the area last month scrapped that plan.

The government now plans to build the complex on a 20-hectare (50-acre) site in El Alto, an industrial city adjoining La Paz.

Bolivia signed an accord earlier this month with the Russian state company Rosatom to support the project.

Bolivia has previously signed nuclear agreements with France and Argentina, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has said it will help the Bolivians establish world-class security standards.

In October 2010, Morales announced agreements with Iran to use its technology to build a nuclear power plant in Bolivia, but nothing has been said publicly about it since.