Obama Approves Nuclear Agreement with Vietnam

On Feb. 24, President Obama approved a proposed agreement with Vietnam, which would allow for cooperation between the two countries concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The agreement has been in the works for some time and will now undergo a 90-day Congressional review period.

Secretary of State John Kerry originally signed the deal with Foreign Minister Minh of Vietnam during a meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Oct. 10, 2013. The so-called 123 civil nuclear agreement is significant because it allows U.S. businesses to export nuclear fuels, equipment, and expertise for use in Vietnam.

While in Brunei, Kerry said, “Vietnam has the second-largest market, after China, for nuclear power in East Asia, and our companies can now compete. What is a $10 billion market today is expected to grow into a $50 billion market by the year 2030.”

Vietnam had originally planned to begin construction of the Ninh Thuan 1 nuclear power plant this year under a contract with Russian national nuclear corporation Rosatom. The plant is expected to have two 1,000-MW water-cooled, water-moderated reactors of the VVER type. It now appears construction will be delayed at least three years in order to ensure International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear safety recommendations can be fully implemented.

In a memorandum to Kerry and Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, President Obama affirmed, “I have determined that the performance of the Agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defense and security,” thereby authorizing the Secretary of State to arrange for the execution of the agreement with Vietnam.

Vietnam’s power industry development strategy envisions construction of 13 nuclear reactors over the next two decades, which offers significant opportunity to companies allowed to do business in the country.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

SHARE this article