US president Barack Obama has approved an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with Vietnam. The so-called ‘123 Agreement’ now passes to Congress for a 90-day review, a state department statement said.
Under the agreement, US companies will be allowed to export nuclear-related fuel, expertise, reactors and equipment. The pact prohibits Vietnam from enriching or reprocessing plutonium or uranium. If Congress does not act, it will come into force in late May 2014.
In a White House statement, Mr Obama said: “I have determined that the performance of the agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defence and security.”
According to the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute, the agreement is important for US exporters because it has the potential to result in 10 billion US dollars (7.2 billion euros) to 20 billion US dollars in US nuclear exports.
Section 123 agreements are named after a provision in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that allows countries to obtain US support to develop civil nuclear energy in exchange for their commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons.