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Cablegate: Colombia: Response On Civil Nuclear Trade Promotion

O 181506Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6180
INFO AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
AMEMBASSY PANAMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 004479


SIPDIS

T FOR MHUMPHREY; COMMERCE FOR SLOPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY BEXP BTIO PGOV CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA: RESPONSE ON CIVIL NUCLEAR TRADE PROMOTION

REF: STATE 127423

1. The following information is keyed to reftel request for
information on Colombia's developments regarding civil
nuclear energy and future plans in the sector.

Plans/Motivations for Development of Nuclear Power
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. According to officials at the Ministry of Mines and Energy
as well as Colombia's Institute of Geology and Mining
(Ingeominas), Colombia has no plans to develop nuclear power
generation capacity. Ingeominas has received a few license
requests from companies interested in uranium mining.
Colombia has focused on hydroelectric power for more than 70
percent of its generation capacity and has authorized the
construction of six more hydro plants by 2018. Colombia is
also exploring renewable energy prospects such as wind, solar
and geothermal, as well as more efficient gas-fired
generation plants.

Government Role in Financing Nuclear Power
------------------------------------------

3. Ministry of Mines and Energy Nuclear Affairs Director
Jorge Vallejo told us that if Colombia decided to develop
civil nuclear power generation, he expected the GOC would
focus on serving as a regulator of private-financed projects.

Civil Nuclear Decisionmakers
----------------------------

4. Colombia's Office of Nuclear Affairs, headed by Jorge
Vallejo, is housed in the Ministry of Mines and Energy and
consists of four staff members. The Office reports to
Director of Energy Andres Enrique Taboada, who in turn
reports to Minister of Mines and Energy Hernan Martinez
Torres. Ingeominas, headed by Director General Mario
Ballesteros, is a separate agency responsible for issues
related to mining and handling of radioactive materials,
including uranium. Within Ingeominas, Fernando Mosos serves
as Director of Nuclear Security. Ingeominas, through
Director General Ballesteros, reports to the Minister of
Mines and Energy.

Existing Nuclear Regulatory Authority
-------------------------------------

5. The Ministry of Mines and Energy serves as Colombia's
nuclear regulatory and policy making authority. Ingeominas
has primary responsibility for implementing regulatory
requirements through its Nuclear Security Office headed by
Fernando Mosos.

Domestic Nuclear Liability Law
------------------------------

6. Colombia does not have a nuclear liability law.
Nevertheless, Colombia does have a series of laws and
regulations covering management of radioactive materials,
including their importation, use, and transport in country.
Colombia is also a signatory to all major international
treaties and agreements related to nuclear security.

Local Manufacture of Nuclear Products/Services
--------------------------------------------- -

7. According to Jorge Vallejo, Colombia's manufacturing
sector could potentially supply the majority of non-sensitive
elements required for the construction of nuclear generation
plant. However, sensitive high technology components would
most likely need to be imported to meet quality and security
standards.

Nuclear-Trained Workforce
-------------------------

8. Colombia has a wide base of engineering, technicians and
builders that could participate in the physical construction
of a civil nuclear power generation facility, but has very
few people qualified to handle the operational aspects of
nuclear power generation. According to Colombian government
officials, any such project in the future would have to be
preceded by a comprehensive training and development program
in order to have a sufficiently trained workforce.

Opportunities for U.S. Industry/Foreign Competitors
--------------------------------------------- ------

9. Colombia has no nuclear-related contract tenders at
present nor plans to issue any in the foreseeable future.
Post is aware of no companies involved in pursuing civil
nuclear projects in Colombia and, in the near term, sees no
opportunities for the U.S. or international nuclear energy
industry in country.


NICHOLS


NNNN

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