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Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic Build Trained Nuclear Workforces with Support of Viet Nam and the IAEA


Laotian Fellow Phonesavanh Lathdavong receives technical instructions for an experiment using short- and medium-lived nuclides at the Dalat Nuclear Research Reactor in Viet Nam.  (Photo: Department of Science, Ministry of Education and Sport, Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Since renewing the Practical Arrangements for Triangular Cooperation between Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Viet Nam and the IAEA in 2022, Viet Nam has continued to build human and institutional capacity in its neighbouring countries. Roughly 40 Cambodian and Laotian participants have completed fellowships, scientific visits, workshops and training courses on nuclear safety, non-destructive testing, cancer care, animal health and food irradiation from 2020 to 2023 with the support of Viet Nam and the IAEA. The participants went on to train a further 120 people after they returned home to share their newfound expertise.

"Over the years, Viet Nam has received support from the IAEA in the research and development of nuclear applications, developing and enhancing its technical and human capacity. Viet Nam is now developing triangular cooperation with its neighbouring countries to encourage South-South cooperation," said Tran Bich Ngoc, Executive Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency.

By sharing practical solutions that leverage the similarities in national contexts, Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic can scale up efforts and capacities to advance progress towards achieving national development goals.

"The technological capacity, economic resources, and intellectual capital available in our Member States in the Asia-Pacific region provide a unique opportunity for promoting South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development," said Hua Liu, IAEA Deputy Director-General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation in his opening remarks at a consultative meeting among the three countries in February 2024.

Vietnamese experts also supported Viet Nam’s neighbours in developing plans for nuclear applications, fortifying their legal frameworks, and empowering the national regulatory authorities. In March 2022, a high-level IAEA and Viet Nam delegation provided recommendations for Cambodia's human resource development to enhance nuclear regulatory functions and provide technical support to ensure nuclear safety and security. Scientists from Cambodia subsequently visited health, agriculture and regulatory facilities in Viet Nam to deepen their understanding.

"Triangular Cooperation is the bridge that connects our nations, fostering collaboration, innovation, and experiences in the promotion of peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology in the region," said Heng Kunleang, Director General of Energy, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Cambodia.

In December 2023, Phonesavanh Lathdavong, Director of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Office at the Department of Science, Ministry of Education and Sport, Lao People's Democratic Republic, completed an IAEA technical cooperation fellowship in Advanced Studies in Nuclear Physics with the Viet Nam Atomic Energy Institute.

"South-South cooperation effectively benefits national counterparts by enhancing human capacity in related fields, including radiation safety, crop production, animal health, and non-destructive testing," said Kongchay Phimmakong, Deputy Director General of the Department of Science, Ministry of Education and Sports, Lao People's Democratic Republic.

The triangular cooperation between Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam was formalized through Practical Arrangements among the three parties and the IAEA in September 2019. The Practical Arrangements were subsequently extended in 2022 until 2027. The three parties agreed to collaborate closely in priority areas including radiation safety infrastructure, food and agriculture, industrial applications, and radiation oncology and nuclear medicine.

Last update: 15 Apr 2024

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