TASHKENT — Russian President Vladimir Putin and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev have launched the construction of a nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan’s western region of Navoiy, which Moscow estimates will cost $11 billion.
The two presidents, on October 19, pressed a symbolic button together at a ceremony in a conference hall in Tashkent to mark the start of geological surveying to decide a location for what would be Uzbekistan’s first nuclear power plant.
Putin said earlier in the day after holding talks with Mirziyoev that the construction of the facility, first concrete of which Uzbekistan plans to pour by 2020, will create “a new industry in Uzbekistan.”
“Two reactors with a capacity of 2.4 Megawatts each will produce cheap and clean electricity for customers in Uzbekistan and Central Asian countries, which will ensure energetic stability not only for Uzbekistan but for the whole region,” Putin said.
Russian and Uzbek officials said earlier that the two presidents will take part via video link in the groundbreaking ceremony for the nuclear power plant on October 19.
According to Putin’s foreign-policy aide, Yury Ushakov, the project is said to be worth $11 billion and is expected to come online in 2028.
The plant will be the first of its kind in Central Asia, where attitudes toward nuclear power were influenced by the dramatic consequences of the Soviet-era Semipalatinsk nuclear test polygon in Kazakhstan’s northeast and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in Ukraine.
Mirziyoev said that he and Putin discussed bilateral military-technical cooperation and regional security.
“A detailed exchange of opinions has taken place on countering terrorism, extremism, and especially the radicalization of youth,” Mirziyoev said.
Putin said that Russia supported Uzbekistan’s “active participation” in talks on Afghanistan.
“We consider it important [for Uzbekistan to take part in peace talks in Afghanistan] to curb threats posed by that country linked to the spread of terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime,” Putin said.
Several documents, including a plan of Russian-Uzbek cooperation for 2019-24, a memorandum on cooperation in the oil and gas sectors, a program on cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and other agreements were signed during Putin’s visit.
Putin arrived in Uzbekistan late on October 18 for his first state visit since Mirziyoev took over the former Soviet republic following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016.
Mirziyoev has taken some steps to open Uzbekistan to the outer world since then. Uzbekistan is Central Asia’s most populous country, with 32 million inhabitants.
With reporting by TASS and Interfax