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Cablegate: Vietnam Makes Progress On Nuclear Mou

VZCZCXRO4578
RR RUEHAST RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHTM
DE RUEHHI #1352 3470931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120931Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8847
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 5376
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS HANOI 001352

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, OES/EGC, OES/STC
STATE ALSO FOR T (JWOLCOTT, MHUMPHREY), ISN/NESS
(ABURKART,PMCNERNEY), ISN/RA (RBEISECKER) AND EAP/MLS
STATE PASS TO NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (KFOGGIE,
JMCLELLAND-KERR, SBURNS)
ENERGY FOR DOE/NE (EMCGINNIS, CWELLING), NNSA/NA-21 (SFRAZER, KAPT,
DKOVACIC, SDICKERSON, IBOLSHINSKY, SMOSES, ABIENIAWSKI)
COMMERCE PLEASE PASS TO USTDA (DROSSITER)
COMMERCE FOR ITA/MAC/HONG-PHONG PHO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG ECON KGHG VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM MAKES PROGRESS ON NUCLEAR MOU

Ref: A. HANOI 1267 B. HANOI 1048 C. HANOI 966

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR DISSEMENATION OUTSIDE THE USG
OR INTERNET POSTING.

1. Summary: Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Officials told
ESTHOff that the Government of Vietnam (GVN) was making progress on
consideration of the proposed bilateral Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) on nuclear cooperation and provided initial feedback. MOST
wants to wrap up the MOU first and then turn its attention to
joining the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). MOST Vice
Minister Le Dinh Tien will be in Washington in early January and
would like to meet with Department of Energy officials to discuss
the MOU, GNEP and final conversion of the Dalat nuclear research
reactor. End Summary.

Nuclear MOU Winding Its Way Through GVN Bureaucracy
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) On December 12, MOST Deputy Director of International
Cooperation Le Thanh Binh met with ESTHOff to review the proposed
MOU "Concerning Cooperation in Nuclear Energy and Other Energy
Fields" (Refs A, B, and C). Binh stated that MOST had submitted the
document to the Ministries of Industry and Trade (MOIT), Foreign
Affairs (MFA), Justice (MOJ), Defense (MOD), and Public Security
(MPS) for inter-agency review. Following consensus, the document
will go to the Prime Minister for approval. Though MOST initially
had set a deadline of mid-November, prior to Deputy Prime Minister
Hoang Trung Hai's visit to Washington, to date only MOJ and MOIT
have responded. Binh lamented their inability to get bigger, more
powerful ministries such as MOD and MPS to respond promptly.

Initial GVN Comments on MOU
---------------------------

3. (SBU) While waiting for final comments from the ministries listed
above, Binh provided initial feedback on the draft text of the MOU.
MOST's only suggested edit was removal of the paragraph affirming
Vietnam's intent to rely on existing markets for nuclear fuel
services. Binh noted that Vietnam planned to purchase fuel from the
entity it selects to construct planned nuclear power plants. As a
stepping stone to the negotiation of a Section 123 Agreement, the
GVN did not feel this MOU needed to address nuclear fuel services.
ESTHOff noted the importance of this paragraph to U.S.
non-proliferation goals, but promised to forward comments to U.S.
substantive experts.

MOU First, GNEP Second
----------------------

4. (SBU) Binh stated that MOST was focusing first on the bilateral
nuclear cooperation MOU. While MOST had held vigorous internal
discussions on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), it did
not want to move forward until it had finalized the MOU, which Binh
described as "easier." MOST will need to run membership in GNEP
through the same gauntlet of ministries listed in paragraph one
above.

MOST Vice Minister Wants to Meet with DOE in January
--------------------------------------------- -------

5. (SBU) According to Binh, MOST Vice Minister Le Dinh Tien, whose
portolio contains nuclear energy, will be in Washington from January
2 to 7 to attend the Vietnam Education Foundation conference. Tien
would like to meet with the Department of Energy to discuss a range
of energy issues including DOE/NNSA Deputy Assistant Secretary
Andrew Bieniawski's request to begin discussions next February
regarding full conversion of the Dalat nuclear research reactor and
removal of spent Highly Enriched Uranium fuel. Tien would also like
to discuss GNEP and the nuclear cooperation MOU. Tien has set aside
January 6 or 7 for meetings, but might also have some time earlier
in his stay.

MICHALAK

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