Vietnam concerned about possibility of nuclear power plans in troubled waters

By Khanh Lynh, Hong Hanh   August 23, 2018 | 09:40 am PT
Vietnam concerned about possibility of nuclear power plans in troubled waters
An aerial view of Southwest Cay, also known as Pugad Island, controlled by Vietnam and part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, April 21, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Francis Malasig
Every country is obligated to maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, Vietnam has asserted.

Responding to U.S. warnings that China might bring floating nuclear power plants to the area, Nguyen Phuong Tra, deputy spokesperson of Vietnam's Foreign Ministry, said peace and stability in the waters are the common interest of every country in the world.

"Therefore all parties are obliged to contribute to this goal," Tra said at a press conference Thursday.

In the annual report submitted to the Congress, the U.S. Department of Defense warned that China might have plans to power islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea, with floating nuclear power stations.

Development of such projects could begin prior to 2020, the report said.

The spokesperson of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also said that the Philippine government was worried about the possibility that foreign powers may bring nuclear warheads into the region, which has been declared a nuclear-free zone, according to The Philippine Star.

At the Thursday press conference, Vietnam's Foreign Ministry also slammed Taiwan's ongoing live-fire drills around Ba Binh (Itu Aba) Island in Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

"Taiwan's continued holding of live-fire drills around Ba Binh Island seriously violates Vietnam's sovereignty, threatens security, maritime and aviation safety, causes tension and complicates the situation in the region," Tra said.

The deputy spokesperson stressed that Vietnam has full legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the island. Vietnam therefore resolutely opposes the drill and demands Taiwan not to repeat any such exercises in the future.

Taiwan's Ocean Affairs Council last month announced that it would hold a live-fire drill around the island from August 22-24.

Ba Binh is the largest naturally occurring island in Vietnam's Truong Sa archipelago, but it is currently under Taiwanese occupation. The 0.5-square kilometer island is 1,600 kilometers southwest of Taiwan.

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