Senior officials and stakeholders from Viet Nam participated in a virtual IAEA national workshop on nuclear law on 18 November. The tailored event focused on international legal instruments on nuclear safety and security relevant to research reactors. The workshop also addressed the elements of an adequate and comprehensive nuclear law specific to research reactors.
Viet Nam currently operates the Dalat research reactor – a 500 kW(th) pool-type reactor used for a variety of applications, including limited radioisotope production and neutron beam research and development. Viet Nam plans to operate a 10-15 MW(th) multi-purpose research reactor (MPR) by 2026.
The IAEA conducted an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review for Research Reactors (INIR-RR) mission in Viet Nam in December 2018, which concluded that Viet Nam had made significant progress toward establishing the national infrastructure necessary for an MPR. The mission, however, did not review the country’s legal framework.
Wolfram Tonhauser, Head of the IAEA’s Nuclear and Treaty Law Section, opened the virtual workshop and highlighted that “research reactors are used in some 50 countries for a variety of beneficial purposes. For a new research reactor project to be properly implemented, the national legislation should cover, in a comprehensive manner, all aspects of nuclear law. This workshop provides an important opportunity to pick-up the past legislative assistance provided by the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs in the context of the country’s now suspended nuclear power programme.”
Representatives from several bodies participated in the event, including the Viet Nam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Security (VARANS), the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Justice, Viet Nam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM) and Viet Nam Atomic Energy Agency (VAEA).
“We look forward to once again cooperating with the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs in the context of our planned research reactor project,” said Ngoc Quang Dinh from the Division of Legislation and Policy at VARANS. “We plan to submit a draft amendment to the Atomic Energy Act for review, and we also hope to send next year a high-level delegation to Vienna to discuss the draft amendment and other issues of nuclear law relevant for a research reactor. We look forward to a second virtual workshop in January 2021, which will address international and national nuclear law for research reactors in the areas of emergency response, nuclear liability and safeguards.”