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States and Vietnam have signed an agreement that will provide the foundation
for the development of peaceful nuclear power in Vietnam. "This is an
important moment in our bilateral relations," said U.S. Ambassador to
Vietnam Michael Michalak. "This memorandum of understanding is a key step
in furtherance of our common non-proliferation goals, and a significant
building block in the development of Vietnam's peaceful, civilian nuclear power
Building on several years of ongoing cooperation, the new agreement addresses
nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation issues. It is also a stepping
stone towards a legally binding government-to-government Peaceful Uses of
Nuclear Energy Agreement, which would allow even broader and deeper nuclear
cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam and would facilitate the participation
of U.S. companies in the Vietnamese nuclear sector. "Vietnam,"
Ambassador Michalak said, "has ambitious plans to develop nuclear power to
meet its rapidly growing energy needs." And U.S. companies, he said,
"can provide the most efficient technology, the most advanced equipment,
and the most comprehensive engineering services available."
Vietnam's demand for power is expected to grow by sixteen percent a year until
2015, according to government projections. And the country's booming economy
has made it difficult for supply to keep up with demand. Last November,
Vietnam's national assembly approved construction of two nuclear power plants.
The U.S. believes that Vietnam has demonstrated its commitment to the
responsible expansion of nuclear power by developing the infrastructure needed
to oversee the deployment of its new power plants over the coming decades.
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President Barack Obama has signaled his commitment to nuclear security by
announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material
around the world within four years and by convening a Nuclear Security Summit
in April. At President Obama's invitation, a Vietnamese delegation, led by Prime
Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, will join the summit. In that spirit, said Ambassador
Michalak, the U.S. hopes that "Vietnam builds on its achievements and
implements all relevant international non-proliferation agreements, so that it
can become a model for countries seeking to develop civilian nuclear