The Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) signed a roadmap for the peaceful use of nuclear energy during the 12th International Atomexpo Forum, an event of the world nuclear industry held in the Russian city of Sochi, Nicaraguan daily La Prensa reported.
“Nicaragua does not have technical or economic resources, nor is it sufficiently prepared to develop this type of energy,” María Elvira Cuadra, sociologist and associate researcher at the Center for Communication Research and the Institute for Strategic Studies and Public Policy of Nicaragua, told Diálogo on December 13, 2022. “From 2018 to the present, the brain drain increased significantly and many of the country’s best professionals have had to leave for other destinations due to the socio-political crisis and the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.”
The roadmap is part of the agreements Nicaragua signed with Russia for technical and productive scientific cooperation, “it outlines the guidelines to advance in the field of cooperation in non-energy applications of nuclear and radiological technologies, strengthening the capacities of professionals, especially in the field of medicine, hydraulic, geothermal, and wind energy,” Nicaragua’s newspaper El 19 Digital reported.
Nikolay Spassky, Rosatom deputy director general for International Affairs, and Alba Azucena Torres, ambassador to Nicaragua in Moscow, signed the memorandum of agreement a year prior, on December 7, 2021.
“The established memorandum is the first document in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy between Russia and Nicaragua,” Rosatom said on its website. “The document lays the foundation for cooperation in a wide range of areas, in particular, for raising public awareness of nuclear technologies, development of nuclear infrastructure […] and non-energy use of atomic energy in industry, agriculture, and medicine.”
“What is perceived to be most dangerous are two major sets of factors. The first is the establishment in the heart of Central America of a real Russian military base with broad operational capacity in an area of high strategic sensitivity,” Luis Guillermo Solís, former president of Costa Rica and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Florida International University, told Nicaraguan independent news site Confidencial. The former president referred to the dangers of Russia’s contribution to revamping the Armed Forces of the Ortega-Murillo regime and the construction of high-tech military installations, in addition to the development of nuclear plants.
Considering that Nicaragua does not have the technical conditions, laboratories, or any other type of appropriate facility to develop this type of industry, sociologist Cuadra offers the following two hypotheses: “One is that it’s a discourse that is being pushed from Russia in Nicaragua to maintain the atmosphere of confrontation with the United States, generating greater friction and using Nicaragua as a pretext. The other is that Russia brings to Nicaragua the resources required for that, technical, material, and human resources. Then […] we would have to see what kind of participation Nicaragua would have and what is Russia’s real purpose in developing this type of energy in the country.”
“In order to develop nuclear energy a nuclear reactor would have to be installed. We already know what happens if a nuclear reactor fails and what is the area that could be affected by its radiation,” Erick Mora, professor at the School of Physics of the University of Costa Rica, told Costa Rican newspaper La Teja. “Imagine if there were a reactor in Nicaragua and it were to have a failure, it would not only be a risk for us, but for all of Central America, Mexico, Panama, that is, for the whole region.”