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USA marketing nuclear technology to Vietnam

Buy-US-nukesObama’s Nuclear Vietnam National Review Online By  Henry Sokolski June 4, 2013 In Washington, learning comes hard. Officials may know when to back off when they’ve crossed wires with Congress, but in most cases, and in less time than you’d think, they’re back at it again.

Take the State Department’s rush three years ago to seal a civilian nuclear deal with Vietnam. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the U.S. had initialed a draft agreement in July of 2010. It featured nuclear-nonproliferation provisions far looser than what Congress wanted. When the Hill found out, it threw a fit, the White House withdrew the deal, and State promised to lead a government-wide review of U.S. nonproliferation policies.

That was 33 months ago. Last September, State completed the review and forwarded its recommendations to the White House. The president has yet to focus on them. Instead he’s gotten excited about promoting U.S. nuclear-reactor exports to — you guessed it — Vietnam.

Last month he sent a U.S. nuclear-export delegation to Hanoi. It included the White House director for nuclear-energy policy, the under secretary of commerce, the assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy, and 18 nuclear-industry representatives. Their mission: to persuade Vietnam to buy Westinghouse reactors.

Key Hill committee staffers were caught out. Nobody from the executive branch had bothered even to tell them about the trip. They are now making inquiries to try to discover what happened.

Why should they care?

First, the administration’s heavy emphasis on promoting U.S. nuclear exports (consider the nuclear-power boosterism of his most senior nonproliferation appointee, put on obsequious display at a recent nuclear-industry confab) now seems ascendant over tightening nuclear-transfer controls.

If so, the Vietnam outing speaks to the credibility of the president’s nonproliferation policies. How can one take these policies seriously if the White House is pitching reactors to Hanoi (again) without even bothering to rule on the recommendations of its own nonproliferation-policy review? Did anyone on the U.S. delegation even raise nonproliferation conditions as a possible issue with their Vietnamese hosts? If so, what did they discuss?

It is worth noting that Congress faulted Secretary Clinton’s first nuclear-cooperative deal with Vietnam in 2010 for failing to include the conditions contained in the previous U.S. civilian nuclear agreement, which Congress had just approved — the 2009 U.S.–United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreement. Negotiated by both the Bush and the Obama administrations, it required the UAE to foreswear making nuclear fuel, either by enriching uranium or by chemically separating plutonium from spent reactor fuel — activities that can bring a state to the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons. It also obliged the UAE to accept new, highly intrusive international nuclear inspections. At the time, these restrictions were heralded by the Obama administration as constituting a new nonproliferation “gold standard” for U.S. nuclear-cooperative deals. The model, however, hardly lasted for long.

The official excuse, given on background eight months later, for why Secretary Clinton’s initialed 2010 Vietnam draft deal didn’t include these conditions was that Asian nations, unlike states in the Middle East, were unlikely to engage in military nuclear rivalries. After North Korea’s third nuclear-weapons test, China’s recent flaunting of its military nuclear modernizations, and the latest South Korean and Japanese debates about developing nuclear-weapons options of their own, this argument seems weak……….



June 6, 2013 - Posted by | marketing, USA, Vietnam

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