HANOI, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Scrapping its first nuclear power plant project, Vietnam is strengthening applications of nuclear energy and technologies in various spheres, especially healthcare, agriculture and industry, a local official said here on Thursday.

"Vietnam and Russia are focusing on building a Center for Nuclear Energy Science and Technology (CNEST), with its main component in southern Dong Nai province, and another component in Hanoi capital city," Dr. Nguyen Hao Quang, vice president of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology, told Xinhua on the sidelines of a nuclear workshop at the Hanoi University of Technology.

The CNEST's key facility will be located in Dong Nai, instead of in central highlands Da Lat city as earlier planned, because the southern province houses many economic establishments which will benefit from nuclear applications, he explained, noting that Vietnam has well applied in the three fields of healthcare, agriculture and industry.

"With nuclear applications, we have succeeded in creating super strains of rice which have high yields and quality and sweet flavor, and resist to diseases. We have also produced substances for early cancer diagnosis, and used some 1,300 radioactive sources in the industrial sector," Quang said.

At the workshop, Vietnamese and foreign experts made presentations about nuclear power and nuclear technology applications in socioeconomic development.

Last year, Vietnam's top legislature decided to scrap its first nuclear power plant project that would have had a capacity of 4,000 megawatts and cost nearly 9 billion U.S. dollars in central Ninh Thuan province. This was not because of technology or safety reasons, but due to the country's current economic situation.

When Vietnam was making preparations for building the plant, also the first in Southeast Asia, which was scheduled to become operational by 2028, its cost was estimated to double to around 18 billion dollars compared to the time when the plan was first tabled.