Vietnam abandons plan for first nuclear power plants

Vietnam's National Assembly voted on Tuesday to abandon plans to build two multi-billion-dollar nuclear power plants with Russia and Japan, after officials cited lower demand forecasts, rising costs and safety concerns, Reuters reports. 

The vote to scrap the country's first atomic energy project deals a blow to the global nuclear business and to Japan's drive to begin exporting reactors after the Fukushima disaster left its nuclear industry in a deep freeze.

The Vietnamese government said in a statement that the decision, made in a closed session of parliament after discussion of a government proposal, was taken for economic reasons and not because of any technological considerations.

The estimated investment needed for the projects had doubled since 2009 to nearly 400 trillion dong ($18 billion), state media Tien Phong quoted Le Hong Tinh, vice chairman of the National Assembly's science, technology and environment commission, as saying earlier this month.

The government is fiscally strapped as public debt lingers near the permitted limit, curbing its ability to maintain Vietnam as one of Asia's fastest-growing economies through spending.

Growth in power demand in Vietnam is also forecast to slacken.

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