Lightbridge and Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM) have signed an agreement for comprehensive consulting support on development of a nuclear research reactor. This agreement, between the US nuclear energy company and VINATOM, is seen as another important step towards improving the strategic relationship between Vietnam and the US.
The comprehensive nuclear cooperation between the US and Vietnam involves 24 specific activities, including consulting services related to the construction and safe operation of Vietnam’s Atomic Energy Research Centre, with a nuclear research reactor. It also includes design review and selection of nuclear research reactors, site selection, and nuclear security protocols.
The agreement is among the first commercial transactions between the two nations facilitated by the recent US-Vietnam nuclear cooperation agreement under Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act. The 123 agreement, which entered into force on 3 October, establishes terms for commercial nuclear trade, and research and technology exchanges.
Work under the five-year agreement between Lightbridge and VINATOM will support Vietnam’s nuclear science and technology centre, a planned US$500 million facility. The agreement also stipulates support for nuclear quality assurance, research reactor fuel selection, control room operations, safeguards, control and accounting of nuclear material and related training programmes.
Vietnam’s plans call for construction of four nuclear reactors at two sites beginning later in this decade, and two additional proposed reactors. The nuclear energy market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth US$10 billion, and is expected to grow to US$50 billion by 2030, according to US Department of Commerce estimates. The second largest nuclear power market in Southeast Asia after China, Vietnam intends to produce more than 10% of its national power from nuclear by 2030.