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US, Vietnam Sign Accord on Nuclear Energy

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, meets with Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh during ASEAN meetings in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
At the East Asian Summit in Brunei, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh signed a so-called 123 accord.

If signed by President Obama and subsequently not blocked by the U.S. Congress, the agreement would allow American atomic energy firms into Vietnam in exchange for Hanoi's pledge not to enrich its own uranium.

A senior U.S. State Department official noted Vietnam "has taken steps towards the development of a robust domestic infrastructure to support its nuclear-power generation program," and that with this agreement "Vietnam has signed on to the strongest global standards of non-proliferation."

Secretary Kerry told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung just minutes after signing the agreement that, "it would create numerous opportunities for our businesses between our two countries. And obviously our nuclear cooperation is quite significant.”

Kerry also told the Vietnamese leader that he looked forward to visiting his country “somewhere in the next few months.”