America and Vietnam Sign Nuclear Trade Agreement
A pact signed on Thursday between the United States and Vietnam can pave the way for the latter to develop a nuclear energy industry.
The US-Vietnam Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement will allow Vietnam to have access to nuclear technology as long as used for peaceful means while US companies will be able to invest in Vietnam’s developing energy enterprise.
Since his first term, President Obama has been striving for global nuclear security, but until now there have been many hurdles to forging a bond with Vietnam, namely their poor human rights record that has had US human rights groups opposed to such a nuclear agreement.
Some see the arrangement between the US and Vietnam as a way to balance out China’s rising power, especially with growing tension between China and the Southeast Asian countries forming over claims to the South China Sea.
According to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the agreement would enable US investors to be a part of Vietnam’s nuclear power market once it has developed. Part of the agreement also stipulates that Vietnam won’t be able to change anything about nuclear material that comes from the US, including recycling it. However, the pact allows Vietnam to gain access to atomic knowledge to kickstart its nuclear market.
When Kerry was speaking with Pham Binh Minh, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister, he said that the agreement between the two nations has the potential to create many business opportunities: “Obviously our nuclear cooperation is quite significant.”
Vietnam is still in its very early stages of nuclear development, hoping to start building their first nuclear power plant with Russia in 2014. Signing the agreement at this point means that the US government are able to oversee the construction and ensure that proper safeguards are in place. Vietnam will also be building a second nuclear plant after signing an agreement with Japanese companies.
The US-Vietnam agreement will now be submitted for President Obama’s review, sent to Congress for a 90-day review period and should be all wrapped up at the beginning of next year.
In the past Vietnam may have shown that it wasn’t ready for such a big step, but by signing the US-Vietnam Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement they have shown that they are willing to mature – to support a nuclear energy programme developed on healthy domestic foundations.