Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vietnam Goes Ahead With Nuclear Plans

Reactors to be built using Japanese technology, despite rethink after Fukushima disaster

Vietnam has agreed to go ahead and build nuclear reactors using Japanese technology, which will make it the first Asean nation to press ahead with such plans after the Fukushima nuclear accident in March. If completed on schedule, by 2020, Vietnam would also become the first Asean nation to have nuclear reactors. Like many others in Asean, including Malaysia and Indonesia, Vietnam had a rethink of its nuclear strategy after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant 200km north of Tokyo.

But earlier this week, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung held talks here with his Japanese host, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, resuming a process that began in October last year when Vietnam chose Japan as its partner for building such plants.

A statement released after the meeting said Japan would provide technologies that 'represent the highest level of nuclear safety' to Vietnam. Japan beat South Korea and France to win the order in October last year. However, Japanese media said it might be premature for Japan to export its nuclear technology.

The nuclear reactors for Vietnam are to be built by the International Nuclear Energy Development of Japan, which was formed by three Japanese nuclear reactor manufacturers and nine power companies.

Besides Vietnam, several major Asean nations had previously announced plans to build nuclear plants. But several days after the Fukushima crisis developed, Thailand
indefinitely froze plans to build five nuclear plants by 2025. Malaysia, which had planned to build its first nuclear plant by 2021, is also having second thoughts. So too is Indonesia, which had plans for four plants by 2025.

Singapore remains cautious about taking the nuclear route, only going so far as to say it would do a feasibility study to explore the use of nuclear energy. (Joyo News)

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