HANOI, Vietnam, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency said it would provide support to Vietnam for its nuclear power sector.
Vietnam is teaming with Russian utility and energy company Rosatom on the country's first nuclear power plant, a two-reactor facility, in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan. Construction of the first reactor, with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts, is slated to begin this year and is scheduled to come online in 2020.
Vietnam would be the first Southeast Asian nation to commission a working nuclear plant.
In comments published in VietNamNet, the IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano, told reporters during his January 7-11 visit to Hanoi: "We will do everything to help Vietnam successfully carry out the Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant project."
The IAEA will send delegations of leading experts to Vietnam to discuss issues such as infrastructure, safety and other related issues related to nuclear energy, Amano said. The agency also plans to send a delegation to Vietnam each year to help the country in applying atomic energy.
Noting that the construction of a country's first nuclear plant is typically 10-15 years from the planning stage, the IAEA chief said time "is not the main problem, but how to prepare it carefully."
"Therefore, Vietnam should not hurry, because this is a big project with a country without experience in nuclear power development," Amano said.
Vietnam joined the IAEA in 1978 and was elected to the agency's board of governors in 2013.
In October, the United States and Vietnam agreed to allow U.S. companies to develop civilian nuclear power in Vietnam. Japan and South Korea have also shown interest in Vietnam's nuclear power sector.
As for the outlook for nuclear power globally, Amano said after the March 2011 disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, the international community's confidence in nuclear power had diminished.
"The clearest evidence is Germany's decision to terminate nuclear power before schedule," he said.
"But now it is very different. Many countries still have faith in nuclear power to ensure energy security because it has many advantages," Amano said, noting it does not produce greenhouse gases, the necessary product costs are "unchanged" compared with fossil fuels and it provides a "stable power source."
"It can be said that nuclear power plants are much safer than the period before the incident in Japan," he added.
Based on IAEA's forecast, by 2030, nuclear power worldwide will grow at least 17 percent under the "baseline" scenario and up to 94 percent under the "high" scenario, Amano said, adding there are around 30 countries and territories developing nuclear energy.