Nonproliferation and Nuclear Energy: The Case of Vietnam Is Vietnam diverting its civilian know-how to create an indigenous nuclear weapons program? Not yet, says the CSS’ Oliver Thränert, but increased tensions or overt conflict with China could lead Hanoi to develop its own nuclear deterrent. By Oliver Thränert for Center for Security Studies (CSS) 26 October 2015
For many years, the international nuclear non-proliferation regime has been in deep crisis. This became apparent most recently when the ninth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in May 2015 ended without a common final document. At the same time, a number of threshold countries are planning to begin using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In a time of increasing international tensions, some of them might build on know-how acquired through their civilian programs to safeguard their national security needs through a nuclear weapons program in the near future. Vietnam is an interesting case in point. Irrespective of certain delays in the development of its peaceful nuclear program, the country has progressed quite far. At the same time, it is engaged in an increasingly precarious conflict with its main neighbor, nuclear-armed China. Currently, there are no signs of a Vietnamese nuclear weapons program. In the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the country is a model of transparency and cooperation. But it is uncertain whether this will always remain the case. On the contrary, Hanoi might change its policy if the conflict with China should come to a head while the NPT continues to be weakened…….
Vietnam’s strategic situation Vietnam’s strategic environment is rapidly changing. This is especially true for Vietnam’s relations with China. While the Communist parties of the two countries regard each other as brother parties and economic relations run deep, the two countries also have disputes over certain small islands in the South China Sea and over the mutual demarcation of exclusive economic zones in these waters. The extent of widespread anti-Chinese feeling among the general public became evident in May 2014, when a Chinese oil platform was discovered in an area claimed by Vietnam. Subsequently, there were not only skirmishes between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels, but also demonstrations in several Vietnamese cities that escalated into violence in which several people were killed.
With an increasingly aggressive China next door, Vietnam, like most of the riparian states, is seeking closer engagement with the US. Washington has become one of Vietnam’s main trading partners. Military relations, too, have been intensified. In July 2013, speaking in Washington, D.C., US President Barack Obama and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang announced a comprehensive bilateral partnership. One important step towards the closer development of ties was the passing in Congress of a 123 Agreement in September 2014, which paved the way for future cooperation in the peaceful use of the atom.
Despite the interest in improving cooperation with the US across the board, however, the leadership in Vietnam must be aware that issues such as the country’s single-party system, together with a human-rights situation that the US continues to regard as problematic, are certain to resurface time and again in relations with Washington. Against this background, US security guarantees such as Japan and South Korea have been given can hardly be expected by Vietnam. At the same time, there is the danger that an overly evident rapprochement with Washington might provoke reactions by China. Thus, Hanoi is forced to perform a difficult tightrope walk, balancing out its relations with China on the one hand against those with the US on the other………http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Articles/Detail/?id=194337
Vietnam’s Slowing Growth and Safety Concerns Delay Nuclear Plans WSJ, By VU TRONG KHANH, 23 Jan 15 Vietnam’s plan to introduce nuclear power to its energy mix faced a fresh setback on Thursday as safety concerns and legal issues pushed back the planned construction of the country’s first nuclear plant by about five years from the initial schedule………
Construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant isn’t likely to begin until 2019, said Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency. The revised schedule comes after the government had already pushed its planned 2014 construction date to 2017……..
The need for the new plant had become less pressing recently, though, as Vietnam’s demand for electricity hasn’t risen as fast as previously forecast, Mr. Tuan said………
Phan Minh Tuan, director of Vietnam Electricity Group’s Nuclear Power & Renewable Energy Projects Pre-Investment Board, said safety concerns had also had an impact on the proposed construction start date……..
The country has chosen Russian utility and nuclear energy company Rosatom to build the first plant, the 2,000 megawatt Ninh Thuan 1. The Russian government has also pledged to lend Vietnam at least $8 billion for the project.
In 2011, Vietnam signed a contract with Japan Atomic Power for a feasibility study to build a second nuclear power plant nearby, the 2,000 MW Ninh Thuan 2, which is expected to use either Japanese or U.S. technology.
Mr. Tuan said Westinghouse is keen to supply its technology for the construction of the second plant, adding that the company earlier this month signed an agreement with Vietnam to train Vietnamese personnel to manage and operate nuclear power facilities in the country. http://blogs.wsj.com/frontiers/2015/01/23/vietnams-slowing-growth-and-safety-concerns-delay-nuclear-plans/
Meanwhile, Vietnam Plus of the Vietnam News Agency reported that the US Congress began considering a cooperation proposal on May 9. It has 90 days to consider the issue before making a final decision.
Prior to that, the Vietnamese and US representatives signed a Vietnam-US nuclear cooperation agreement in Hanoi on May 6 (Agreement 123).
Vietnamese officials and scientists have expressed their satisfaction about the agreement.Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan said at the signing ceremony that the agreement can be seen as an open door for both the US and Vietnam to accelerate projects on nuclear energy development…….
The US Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the US nuclear energy firms have unanimously urged the US Congress to ratify the agreement soon, emphasizing that the strengthened cooperation with Vietnam in the sector would help boost exports and create more jobs.
The US firms can expect to earn $10-20 billion from the deals with Vietnam…..David Durham from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GHE) has warned that if the US Congress does not ratify the agreement, US firms will lose the lucrative market of Vietnam……http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/science-it/106944/vietnam-nuclear-power-market-eyed-by-three-major-countries.html
Police, MİT to investigate nuclear plant employees http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=116106 27 Aug 13, The General Directorate of Security will reportedly investigate 4,000 Turkish citizens, including interns, while MİT will look into 8,000 Russians to be hired to work at the plant
Twelve thousand workers to be employed at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant will be investigated for security purposes by police and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in the southern province of Mersin, according to media reports on Monday. The General Directorate of Security will reportedly investigate 4,000 Turkish citizens, including interns, while MİT will look into 8,000 Russians to be hired to work at the plant, set to be built in Mersin’s Gülnar district.
The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry demanded investigations into the Akkuyu power plant staff by the Interior Ministry, which initially rejected the energy ministry’s demand, stating it was against the relevant directives.
Later, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry demanded a special article be added to a directive that allowed only for the investigation of public servants, seeking the inclusion of employees of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, stating that the facility has strategic prominence in terms of state security.
The Justice Ministry received the demand and stated its opinion that there should be a special regulation in the directives for issues related to national security, meaning the investigation of the nuclear power plant workers should be made permissible.
Interior Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Mustafa Demirer issued a new directive to the governors of the 81 provinces stating that employees, Turkish interns and subcontractors at facilities with strategic importance such as nuclear power plants require investigation.
Future requests for security checks under the directive will be carried out through the investigation of archives; Turkish employees will be investigated by the General Directorate of Security, while MİT will be in charge of looking into foreign personnel.
So far, the General Directorate of Security and MİT have investigated the records of over 200 Turkish and foreign employees employed for the project. It has been reported that Turkish employees found to have a criminal record that includes such offenses as terrorism and smuggling will be terminated. Russian citizens who work at the Akkuyu nuclear plant will be deported if they are found to have a criminal record.
Obama’s Nuclear Vietnam National Review Online By Henry Sokolski June 4, 2013 In Washington, learning comes hard. Officials may know when to back off when they’ve crossed wires with Congress, but in most cases, and in less time than you’d think, they’re back at it again.
Take the State Department’s rush three years ago to seal a civilian nuclear deal with Vietnam. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. had initialed a draft agreement in July of 2010. It featured nuclear-nonproliferation provisions far looser than what Congress wanted. When the Hill found out, it threw a fit, the White House withdrew the deal, and State promised to lead a government-wide review of U.S. nonproliferation policies.
That was 33 months ago. Last September, State completed the review and forwarded its recommendations to the White House. The president has yet to focus on them. Instead he’s gotten excited about promoting U.S. nuclear-reactor exports to — you guessed it — Vietnam.
Last month he sent a U.S. nuclear-export delegation to Hanoi. It included the White House director for nuclear-energy policy, the under secretary of commerce, the assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy, and 18 nuclear-industry representatives. Their mission: to persuade Vietnam to buy Westinghouse reactors. Continue reading
Japan lobbied aggressively to win the contract to build a nuclear power plant in Vietnam. Japan and other nuclear powers are now desperate to sell plants to developing nations, since Fukushima has destroyed the dream of a nuclear renaissance in advanced economies.
If we don’t, someone else will (and other dubious rationalizations) Kanagawa Notebook, September 23, 2012 “…..Vietnam, a nation which, with the assistance and “know-how” of both Russia and Japan, is about to go nuclear. In spite of the Fukushima disaster, the Vietnamese government plans to honor their contract with a Japanese firm to build a nuclear power plant, and in fact, preparations are already underway.
While the Noda administration waffles and stumbles before its own citizens, it is “leading the way” with confidence in Vietnam, where residents believe that 1) the nuclear industry is safe and trustworthy, and 2) Fukushima was something unfortunate, but unrelated to their own situation. Continue reading
The first plants are likely to be delayed until 2028 at the earliest, he said.“The key element is also the financing of these projects, which we feel will be delayed…Vietnam may not be able to afford paying “a premium”…
Thai, Vietnamese Nuclear Plans Face Delays, Wood Mackenzie Says – Bloomberg, By Ann Koh – Nov 19, 2010 Southeast Asia’s first nuclear power plants, planned in Vietnam and Thailand by 2020, may be delayed by at least eight years Continue reading
Nuclear power in Vietnam: the US and Russia compete, FT.com, September 6, 2010 by Matt Steinglass “…… today Russia and America are again jockeying for influence in Vietnam, and this time they’re offering reactors.The head of the Russian state-owned nuclear power monopoly Rosatom, Sergei Kirienko, (at left) was in Hanoi on Friday, shaking hands with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung………
Westinghouse Electric and Japan’s Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, both of which use American technology, are bidding on the contract for Vietnam’s second reactor.
The Shotgun: Filibuster: The first nuclear commandment, Western Standard, 15 Aug 2010, In a story that did not get a lot of press this week, the Obama administration has announced that it plans to go ahead with a nuclear technology deal with the Communist nation of Vietnam, despite that country’s refusal to make a pledge to not enrich uranium. Continue reading
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