Vietnam and the United States have signed an agreement that will allow U.S. companies to work in Vietnam to develop atomic power for energy.

U.S. Ambassador Michael Michalak described Tuesday’s agreement as an important moment in bilateral relations between the two nations, adding that it is a key step in advancing nonproliferation goals.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, following the Vietnam War.

In November, Vietnam approved plans to build the country’s first two nuclear power plants in the south central province of Ninh Thuan. Media reports say Vietnam signed a deal with a Russian firm to build the first plant.

Vietnamnet reported that “Beginning in September, 2010, Rosatom will train Vietnamese experts in the fields of nuclear power while Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant is under construction. The Russian government and Rosatom will cover part of the training fees for Vietnamese experts.”

Vietnam hopes to have its first nuclear plant online by 2020.

On March 19 the Wall Street Journal reported that Japan is also stepping up efforts to win nuclear business in Vietnam.

Sources: Voice of America, Wall Street Journal, Vietnamnet