US nuclear energy company Lightbridge and the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (VARANS) have signed a nuclear safety training agreement for the first phase of a training program in 2016.

The signing event was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and took place on Monday, May 23, at the Sheraton Hotel in Hanoi.

Under the agreement, Lightbridge will provide training in the United States for up to eight VARANS officials over a two-week period to provide them with an understanding of inspection fundamentals for early procurement of nuclear components. Focusing on inspection of design and fabrication of nuclear fuel for commercial pressurized water reactors (PWR), this two-week training program will also provide supplementary information to aid understanding and planning for early regulatory functions such as inspection of nuclear power plant construction, licensing, and capacity development. As a part of the agreement, VARANS also requested that Lightbridge prepare a long-term and comprehensive training program from 2017 to 2020.

Based on the results of this two-week training program, VARANS and Lightbridge will work together to make further improvements to the next phases of the training program in 2017 and subsequent years. This long-term program starting in 2017 is expected to entail topics related to safety standards and acceptance criteria for the design, construction, and installation of critical components affecting the safe operation of nuclear power plants and supporting infrastructure. This agreement marks a significant expansion beyond previous interactions between VARANS and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Lightbridge Vice President Jonathan Baggett signed the agreement for Lightbridge in Hanoi. US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, and U.S. Congressmen Joaquin Castro and Beto O’Rourke attended the event. Vietnamese officials present included Tran Viet Thanh, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology (VARANS is an agency under this ministry) and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This Agreement is part of the growing U.S.-Vietnam strategic relationship, coinciding with President Obama’s visit to Vietnam. Both countries regard cooperation on civil nuclear power to be an important part of improving relations.

Seth Grae, President & Chief Executive Officer of Lightbridge Corporation, commented, "We are honored to work with VARANS on Vietnam’s nuclear energy program. This training program is crucial for continuing cooperation in civil nuclear safety and security. This program is just the beginning of what both parties intend to be many years of cooperation, followed by a comprehensive training program from 2017-2020 to be provided by Lightbridge to VARANS."