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Cablegate: No Cambodian Plans to Pursue Civil Nuclear Energy Program

VZCZCXRO3281
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0978 3460156
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110156Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0184
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000978

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS
STATE FOR T/MHUMPHREY
COMMERCE FOR SLOPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY BEXP BTIO CB
SUBJECT: NO CAMBODIAN PLANS TO PURSUE CIVIL NUCLEAR ENERGY PROGRAM

REF: STATE 127423

1. (U) Cambodia does not have plans for a civil nuclear program at
this time. Cambodia's energy infrastructure is currently very
underdeveloped; most electricity is produced by diesel-powered
generators. Only about 18 percent of the population is connected to
the electricity grid. The Royal Government of Cambodia's (RGC) top
energy priorities right now are: 1) pursuit of cheaper and/or
domestic energy sources such as coal and hydropower, 2) development
of a better national and regional grid, and 3) rural
electrification.

2. (U) Pol/Econ Assistant met with Tun Lean, Director General,
General Department of Energy at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and
Energy (MIME) on December 5. Tun Lean welcomed any interest from
the U.S. civil nuclear industry but cautioned that Cambodia is still
a long way from implementing its own civil nuclear program. He said
that the RGC currently required training on trans-border safety
standards and related negotiations; he said that Vietnam and
Thailand want to build nuclear power plants near Cambodia's borders,
and that MIME had concerns about potential impacts to Cambodia.

3. (U) Tun Lean also said that a South Korean professor at The
University of Battambang, Dr. Hah Chang Joo, had approached MIME
about developing a workshop with South Korean civil nuclear program
experts to introduce basic industry concepts but had not yet begun
to organize the workshop. COMMENT: Any U.S. assistance should
similarly focus on basic education or capacity building, as
Cambodian officials have little to no experience in the civil
nuclear ndustry. END COMMENT.

RODLEY

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