Russia to build Central Asia’s first nuclear plant in agreement with Uzbekistan

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Russia and Uzbekistan signed an accord Monday for Moscow to build a small nuclear power plant in the Central Asian country, as Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in the Uzbek capital with Uzbekistan leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Mirziyoyev hailed the project as “vital” in remarks after the talks, noting that Uzbekistan has “its own large reserves of uranium.”

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Putin, in turn, vowed to “do everything in order to work effectively on Uzbekistan’s (nuclear energy) market.”

If the agreement is implemented, the plant would become the first in Central Asia, further increasing Russia’s influence in the region.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the Russian state-owned energy corporation, Rosatom, as saying that the project envisions building six reactors with the total capacity of 330 megawatts.

According to Russian media, the two countries were earlier discussing building a nuclear power plant of a larger capacity — of 2.4 gigawatts.

Putin also promised to increase gas deliveries to Uzbekistan.

The talks between Putin and Mirziyoyev took place in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, where the Russian leader traveled on Sunday in his third foreign trip since being inaugurated for a fifth presidential term earlier this month.

He first went to China, where he expressed appreciation for China’s proposals for talks to end the Ukraine conflict, and later to Belarus where Russia has deployed tactical nuclear weapons.

The trips reflect the Kremlin’s ongoing effort to shore up support amid unabating tensions with the West over the conflict in Ukraine.

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