U.S.-sponsored uranium enrichment in Hanoi?

U.S.-sponsored uranium enrichment in Hanoi?

In a move that counter-proliferation experts have called a step backward, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is in "advanced negotiations" with Hanoi to share nuclear fuel and technology. Furthermore, in going against the model that the Obama administration used for other nuclear deals — requiring the country to not enrich uranium — the new agreement also reportedly allows Hanoi todo just that.  Although signatories of the UN’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty have the right to enrich uranium, the United States has previously required countries interested in civilian nuclear cooperation to renounce that right. 

The WSJ found that many aren’t too excited for the State Department-led negotiations that are expected to continue in the fall:

Congressional staff and nonproliferation experts briefed on the negotiations have been quick to criticize the State Department’s position as a rollback of a key Obama administration nonproliferation platform. They also say Washington’s position exposes it to criticism from Arab and developing countries that the U.S. is employing a double standard in pursuing its nuclear policies. […]

"It’s ironic…as nonproliferation is one of the president’s top goals that the U.A.E. model is not being endorsed here," said a senior Arab official whose government is pursuing nuclear power. "People will start to see a double standard, and it will be a difficult policy to defend in the future.

To make this even more interesting, China was completely uninvolved in the negotiations about the potential for uranium enrichment on its southern border. This comes after China criticized Secretary Clinton for supporting Hanoi’s position on territorial disputes in the South China Sea…territorial disputes that seem to be ongoing.