Vietnam allocates top priority to safety in its nuclear energy development policy, a senior Vietnamese official said at the 12 th ministerial meeting of the Forum on Nuclear Cooperation in Asia (FNCA) in Tokyo on Dec. 16.

In his speech, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien said, “the Fukushima nuclear accident, once again, reminds us to develop and use nuclear power for peaceful purposes in a responsible way, in which ensuring the highest standards of nuclear safety is the first priority”.

Vietnam ’s energy policy for the post-Fukushima period relies on diverse energy sources, he said, noting that the country is facing a future of limited fossil fuel sources becoming exhausted, while energy consumption, especially electricity consumption, is increasing rapidly.

“We understand that nuclear power is a clean energy source with no carbon dioxide emissions and it could be considered as a feasible option to meet the country’s demand for energy,” he said.

Vietnam decided to continue its nuclear energy programme, Tien said, adding that under the new plan for electricity development for 2011-2020 with an orientation to 2030, which was adopted by the Government last July, Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant will be in commercial operation by 2020 and the share of nuclear power in total power generation will reach 10.1 percent by the year 2030.

To realise the programme, Vietnam is focusing on investment for developing sound nuclear infrastructure, including legal and regulatory systems, human resource development, developing a technical support organisation and enhancing international cooperation to ensure safety, security and nonproliferation, Tien said.

He also stressed the importance of regional and international cooperation, including through FNCA projects on safety management systems for nuclear facilities, radiation safety and radioactive waste management, along with nuclear security and safeguards.

Deputy Minister Tien took this opportunity to share sympathy with the government and people of Japan for the human and economic losses and the serious impact from earthquake and tsunami in March this year.

The 12 th FNCA ministerial meeting which opened on Dec. 16 gathered officials in charge of science and technology and nuclear experts from 13 FNCA member countries./.