Loss of atomic parts-vetting regime may delay reactor deal in Vietnam

Kyodo

Last year’s scrapping of an administrative system for overseeing the export and financing of nuclear technology has thrown a wrench into a deal to send two reactors to Vietnam, government officials said.

Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe views the export of atomic technology as one of the pillars of his economic growth strategy, nuclear cooperation with Vietnam may not proceed as scheduled, they said Saturday.

Under domestic rules, Japan must confirm the importing country has nuclear safety regulations in place and complies with international rules before state-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation doles out loans for export, they said.

The now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had been in charge of checking the safety of parts and machinery for export, despite the nation not having shipped a reactor anywhere in the world, they said.

But the Nuclear Regulation Authority, launched in September last year as the new atomic watchdog, will not be involved in nuclear export safety checks, the officials said, citing what its secretariat told the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy in January.

That agency is considering having experts conduct the safety checks, but exactly when a new system will be established remains unknown, officials said.

In October 2010 Vietnam signed on to a deal to import two reactors, and Tokyo has since agreed to finance the projects — each estimated to cost hundreds of billions of yen — with loans mainly from the JBIC.