CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday that his government is carrying out initial studies into starting a nuclear energy program.
Chavez brought up the issue during a news conference, saying the South American country needs an atomic energy program.
“We’re taking on the project of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and they aren’t going to stop us,” Chavez said. “We need it and we’re carrying out the first studies.”
Chavez is a close ally of Iran and has defended the Iranian nuclear program, saying he is sure Iran is not making atomic weapons in spite of U.S. and European suspicions.
He has mentioned plans for an atomic energy program previously. It remains unclear how quickly he intends to pursue the program.
Chavez brought up the issue while referring to the case of a physicist and his wife in New Mexico who are accused by U.S. authorities of offering to help develop a nuclear weapon in contacts with an undercover U.S. agent posing as a representative of the Venezuelan government.