Argentinean Minister of Defense Arturo Puricelli says that the country is considering the development of nuclear propulsion for submarines currently designed with diesel-electric powertrains. The initiative follows a request from President Cristina Fernandez and is closely linked to Brazil's construction of a nuclear-powered submersible with French technology.
According to Puricelli, Argentina has the capability to develop this technology. Argentina's National Atomic Energy Commission and the National Institute for Space and Nuclear Technology apparently have completed designing the CAREM reactor, which can be adapted for use on a submarine.
The two vessels that could receive the new power systems first are the Santa Fé and the San Juan. Construction of the Type 1700 Santa Fé was never completed and is currently under way. The Navy hopes to have the sub conventionally powered and in the water by 2015. A nuclear propulsion system would be added later.
Argentina first expressed an interest in nuclear-powered submarines last year. Former Defense Minister Nilda Garre announced in June 2010 that technical studies toward development were already under way. Critics have discredited the plans, saying that the program would be too costly for the government.