Prime Minister Says Cambodia’s Nuclear Plans Purely Peaceful

A day after signing two agreements with Russia to explore the possibility of nuclear power plants in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen assured a group of university students in Moscow that such technology would be employed for peaceful means.

“We, with Russia, have agreed on the matter of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” Mr. Hun Sen told a group of more than 300 Cambodian students studying in Russia, adding that the government had no ambition to obtain nuclear weapons.

“The agreement on the use and development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is one factor pushing Cambodia to the level of a developed country,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on Tuesday to create a joint information center for nuclear energy and established a joint working group to examine the potential for nuclear energy in Cambodia.

It remains unclear when Cambodia might actually be able to build a nuclear power facility, with the government’s future energy plans relying almost entirely on hydropower dams and coal-fired power stations.

Following Mr. Hun Sen’s speech, one of the students stood up to draw the prime minister’s attention to the financial difficulties faced by students studying in Russia, where they currently receive a government scholarship of $10 a month, as well as about $23 from Russia.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Hun Sen announced on his Facebook page that beginning this month, the scholarship given to Cambodian students in Russia would increase to $50 a month.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Medvedev presided over the signing of eight MoUs, covering trade, infrastructure and security issues, as well as a deal to ramp up cooperation between Olympic committees.

National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun said on Wednesday that the agreement would begin “very soon,” rekindling the strong athletic ties that existed in the 1980s.

“They have very good coaches, which is important in developing our sports teams and coaches,” he said, adding that Russia would offer support in the sports they are strongest in, such as swimming, wrestling and gymnastics.

(Additional reporting by Peter Ford)

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