Vietnam signs nuclear power deals

Nov. 1, 2010 at 2:20 PM
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HANOI, Vietnam, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Vietnam signed nuclear power deals with Russia and Japan, leaders from the three countries said.

Both deals were announced Sunday in Hanoi as Russian and Japanese leaders attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

Under a $5 billion agreement, Russia will build Vietnam's first nuclear power plant, with two power units, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts. Construction is expected to start in 2014.

"If we reach the goals we have set, this power plant will account for a great share of Vietnam's energy market and will allow it to develop as a modern state that not only produces and processes oil but also uses other energy sources, which is very important in today's world," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said of the deal during a news conference broadcast on Russian state television, Voice of America reports.

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet also praised the agreement, saying it "demonstrates the special ties we have with Russia" and "indicates the confidence that Vietnam has in Russia's technology."

Vietnam's agreement with Japan for nuclear reactor construction is worth an estimated $14.4 billion and calls for two reactors in the southeastern Vietnamese province of Ninh Thuan with a combined output of 2 gigawatts, The Asahi Shimbun newspaper of Japan reports. They are scheduled to go online in 2021.

Observers regard the civil nuclear reactor deal as a major accomplishment for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration. It represents the first significant order since Japan set out on a policy of supporting exports of its technology overseas, the Financial Times reports.

Vietnam aims to generate as much as 20 percent of its energy from nuclear power by 2030 and to build 14 nuclear reactors by that time.

The country's demand for electricity is growing at an estimated rate of 15 percent a year. It faces frequent power outages and blackouts.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says half of Vietnam's domestic energy consumption comes from oil. Hydropower supplies about 20 percent of Vietnam's power, coal supplies about 18 percent and natural gas accounts for the remainder.

The United States and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding in March for cooperation in the nuclear power sector but Vietnam must first sign a formal Section 123 agreement before it can import nuclear technology from the United States.

Hanoi has previously signed bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, China, France, India, South Korea and Argentina.

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