Obama Sends Vietnam Nuclear Trade Pact to Congress

A student photographs a model of a Russian nuclear power plant on display at an international nuclear power exhibition held in Hanoi in October 2012. The White House is poised to submit a U.S.-Vietnamese nuclear trade agreement to Congress for review.
National Journal
Elaine M. Grossman
Add to Briefcase
Elaine M. Grossman
May 8, 2014, 7:57 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on Thursday sub­mit­ted to Con­gress a nuc­le­ar trade ac­cord with Vi­et­nam after a re­por­ted Tues­day sign­ing ce­re­mony. The pact could po­ten­tially pro­ceed in­to force later this year.

The 30-year bi­lat­er­al agree­ment — un­der which the United States could share nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­als, tech­no­lo­gies and in­form­a­tion with the South­east Asi­an na­tion — could be im­ple­men­ted if law­makers do not act to block it with­in 90 days of con­tinu­ous le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion.

Con­gres­sion­al sources said the doc­u­ment was signed earli­er this week. Hanoi’s of­fi­cial news agency re­leased a photo show­ing a Tues­day sign­ing ce­re­mony between Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­no­logy Nguy­en Quan and U.S. Am­bas­sad­or to Vi­et­nam Dav­id Shear.

Typ­ic­ally such nuc­le­ar trade pacts between Wash­ing­ton and oth­er cap­it­als around the globe go for­ward with few U.S. law­makers even tak­ing no­tice.

This first-ever nuc­le­ar ac­cord ty­ing the United States to Vi­et­nam could be dif­fer­ent, though.

Some power­ful mem­bers of the House and Sen­ate have raised con­cerns about re­ward­ing Hanoi when it has a spotty hu­man rights re­cord. Nu­mer­ous non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ex­perts and law­makers from both sides of the aisle also have cri­ti­cized the U.S.-Vi­et­nam pact for lack­ing bind­ing pro­vi­sions aimed at pre­vent­ing Vi­et­nam from un­der­tak­ing sens­it­ive nuc­le­ar fuel-mak­ing activ­it­ies that could con­trib­ute to build­ing nuc­le­ar weapons.

At a late-Janu­ary hear­ing, for ex­ample, Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez (D-N.J.) de­man­ded to know why Wash­ing­ton ac­cep­ted a polit­ic­al side note with Vi­et­nam in­dic­at­ing that Hanoi would not en­rich urani­um or re­pro­cess plutoni­um do­mest­ic­ally, rather than in­sert that “im­port­ant state­ment in­to a bind­ing part of the agree­ment.”

“I’d like to have an an­swer to that,” said the chair­man, backed by a num­ber of pan­el Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats.

Men­en­dez said he might al­low the Vi­et­nam pact to pro­ceed, but only if it is ac­com­pan­ied by “a par­al­lel res­ol­u­tion on hu­man rights as part of our com­pre­hens­ive part­ner­ship un­der­stand­ing.”

U.S. nuc­le­ar lob­by­ists — sup­por­ted by some law­makers and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion ad­voc­ates — say that Wash­ing­ton would re­tain more pos­it­ive in­flu­ence with na­tions de­vel­op­ing their own atom­ic-power cap­ab­il­it­ies if it helps fa­cil­it­ate their work.

“If you look at the Vi­et­nam of 15 years ago and you look at Vi­et­nam today, it’s a dra­mat­ic­ally changed na­tion,” Sen­at­or John Mc­Cain (R-Ar­iz.) said at the Jan. 30 com­mit­tee hear­ing. “This agree­ment is an­oth­er step in what has evolved in­to a part­ner­ship between the United States and Vi­et­nam.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­lib­er­ated in­tern­ally over its nuc­le­ar trade and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion policy for years, lead­ing to some dra­mat­ic splits between seni­or En­ergy and State de­part­ment of­fi­cials, among oth­ers.

Last year, the White House con­cluded it would take what of­fi­cials call a “flex­ible” policy to­ward ne­go­ti­ations on atom­ic co­oper­a­tion pacts, de­mand­ing only in se­lec­ted cases that glob­al part­ners prom­ise not to pro­duce their own nuc­le­ar fuel in ex­change for Wash­ing­ton’s nuc­le­ar bless­ing.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP CONTINUES TO LAWYER UP
Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
2 days ago
THE LATEST

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Source:
ALSO INQUIRES ABOUT PARDON POWER
Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
2 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Source:
INCLUDES NY PROBE INTO MANAFORT
Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
2 days ago
THE LATEST

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Source:
Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."

Source:
ANALYSIS FROM CBO
32 Million More Uninsured by 2026 if Obamacare Repealed
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login