WASHINGTON – A proposed nuclear deal between the United States and Vietnam has drawn protests from two former U.S. congressmen who contend it does not include restrictions on enriching uranium, the process that rogue nations use to manufacture nuclear weapons.
Former Congressmen William Hendon, R-N.C. and John LeBoutillier, R-N.Y. argue that the move could heighten the risk of nuclear proliferation; could increase the possibility of nuclear materials falling into extremists' hands; and contend that the deal runs counter to the U.S. policy.
"We're going to give the Vietnamese nuclear enrichment authority, which could lead to nuclear weapons or, more frightening, loose nuclear material in terrorist hands," Hendon told a news conference in Washington.
Critics have blasted the Vietnam deal as contradicting President Barack Obama’s stated nuclear goals. Obama vowed in a speech from Prague in April 2009 that the United States would take the lead in pushing for a world devoid of nuclear weapons.
Some also argue the arrangement represents a double standard. The United States goes to great lengths to prevent certain countries from acquiring nuclear technology but fails to apply the same rigid policies to others, critics said.
As such, a U.S. government debate over whether to press for the inclusion of a clause restricting Vietnam from enriching uranium is currently under way in Washington.
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