Japan offers Vietnam help to launch nuclear power

15 May 2008

Vietnam and Japan have agreed to cooperate on the use of nuclear energy. The announcement came as international nuclear companies plug their products and services at an exhibition in Hanoi.

Under the agreement signed today, Japan will help Vietnam prepare and plan for the introduction of nuclear energy, educate experts in nuclear power and help the country formulate nuclear safety regulations. The agreement was signed in Hanoi by Masashi Nakano, Japan's vice minister of economy, trade and industry, and Do Huu Hao, Vietnam's vice minister of industry and trade. The agreement is for cooperation until 31 March 2010, but this could be extended.

In a statement, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said: "It is very significant that a framework has been established for Japan to help Vietnam with its 50-year history in nuclear power development and its expertise in operating 55 nuclear power plants." It added, "Under this agreement, we will combine efforts at government and private sector levels to cooperate with Vietnam."

In February 2006 the government announced that a 2000 MWe nuclear power plant would be online by 2020. A feasibility study for this is due to be completed in 2008, and formal approval would then be required to open a bidding process with a view to construction and commissioning in 2011 and 2017 respectively. This general target was confirmed in a nuclear power development plan approved by the government in August 2007, with the target being raised to a total of 8000 MWe nuclear by 2025. In April 2008 it was reported that 4000 MWe was planned for the southern Ninh Thuan province to be constructed from 2015 and be in operation from 2020.

Vietnam has also signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, France, South Korea and the USA.

Meanwhile, Mai Cong Mung of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's energy department has told Dow Jones that Vietnam plans to outline in June a detailed roadmap to prepare for development of nuclear power plants to be operational by 2020. According to Mung, the national assembly will pass a law on nuclear energy in early June and the government will make public the national nuclear energy development strategy later in the month.

Mung said: "We need the law first, and then the major development plans, and then we will select foreign technological suppliers." He added, "Vietnam will select foreign consulting firms and then open a tender for companies to bid for construction contracts."

Hanoi is currently hosting an international exhibition on nuclear power. The event has attracted the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), and representatives from South Korea, Japan, Russia and France. It is the third such exhibition to be held in Vietnam, the previous ones being held in 2004 and 2006. The event is organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.