Vietnam was helping to build a Southeast Asian community free of nuclear weapons, following his country's recent signing of a nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the US, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said.
Vietnam's top priority is safety and security as it begins to work with nuclear energy, said Dung at the two-day Nuclear Security Summit that began April 12 in Washington DC. He added that the country shared the international community's concerns about the threat of nuclear terrorism.
He said Vietnam had developed and improved its "legal framework and regulatory bodies to control and ensure the safety and security of the use of nuclear materials and radio-active substances. At the same time, Vietnam has acceded to many important international treaties in this area.
"Vietnam strongly supports and actively contributes" to efforts geared towards "nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and countering terrorism in all forms while promoting the safe and secured use of nuclear energy for the benefits of all nations," said the prime minister.
"As Chair of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] in 2010, Vietnam is actively contributing to building a prosperous Southeast Asia free from nuclear weapons."
The prime minister also stressed that the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency must take the central role in speeding up nuclear applications and safeguarding nuclear security.
During his visit to the Nuclear Security Summit, Prime Minister Dung also met with US Vice President Joseph Biden. Dung has said he hopes US firms would be actively involved in nuclear power projects and the Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park in Vietnam, Sai Gon Tiep Thi newspaper reported April 14.
Vietnam and the US on March 31 signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear energy that could see US firms enter the local sector here.
On March 25, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc. (JAIF) established the JAIF Vietnam Office in Hanoi as part of its cooperation toward the introduction of nuclear power in Vietnam. JAIF has actively cooperated with Vietnam in the area of development of nuclear infrastructure ever since 2000, when it concluded a nuclear cooperation memorandum with the then-Vietnam Atomic Energy Commission [current Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute].
On April 13, Dung met with the Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who reaffirmed Japanese interest in Vietnam's nuclear power sector.
Dung had met leaders of GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. on April 12.
Vietnam has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, China, France, India, South Korea and Argentina.
The National Assembly, Vietnam's parliament, last year approved a project to build two nuclear power plants with the first expected to break ground in 2014 and put into operation in 2020.