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March 29, 2024 (EIRNS)—In a move that has shocked the scientific community, yesterday Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) was forced to shut down two of its vanguard projects as of April 1 because the Milei government’s savage budget-slashing made it impossible for CNEA to continue funding them or pay the wages of its workers. CNEA director Adriana Serquis, a physicist, wrote a scathing letter to Energy Secretary Eduardo Chirillo, documenting his department’s failure to provide funds it had promised.

On the chopping block are the CAREM-25 prototype, a small modular reactor which has been in construction since 2014, and the RA-10 multipurpose research reactor, which is 90% complete. A pressurized water reactor, the 25 MW CAREM was designed and built by Argentine personnel with national technology and is a source of great national pride. After 100 workers had to be laid off from the project, it was immediately shut down. This dashes CNEA’s hopes of exporting the CAREM, for which there is a growing international market especially in developing nations where it can ideally be located away from large urban centers.

The RA-10 multipurpose research reactor, located at the Ezeiza Atomic Center, is the most modern of its kind in the world. When in full operation, expected by 2027, it will quadruple the production of radioisotopes for medical research and use to meet both domestic demand and allow for export. In addition, it can produce doped silicon for neutron transmutation which is in great demand for production of high potency computer chips, and has many other scientific applications.

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