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US, Philippines forge nuclear energy deal

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

San Francisco--The Philippines and the United States have signed an “Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy" that would pave the way for the development of a nuclear energy sector in the Southeast Asian country.

Also known as "123 Agreement," the deal lays out a comprehensive framework for "peaceful nuclear cooperation" between the two nations, according to the U.S. State Department and authorizes the transfer of nuclear equipment and material for peaceful uses.

"With access to U.S. material and equipment, the U.S. and the Philippines will be able to work together to deploy advanced new technologies, including small modular reactors, to support climate goals as well as critical energy security and baseload power needs within the Philippines," the U.S. State Department said in a statement Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington is working with the Philippine government to develop a nuclear energy project for a reliable, secure and affordable clean energy future.

"As peak energy demands are expected to nearly quadruple in the Philippines by 2040, nuclear power can consistently produce enough energy to meet communities’ critical needs without emitting more greenhouse gases. In a nation of more than 7,000 islands, small modular reactors – some just the size of a city bus – can generate energy locally and conveniently," Blinken said.

"Nuclear energy will also create inclusive economic opportunities for American and Filipino businesses alike, and good-quality, high-paying jobs in both of our countries. All of these are reasons why today we are signing this 123 Agreement – to create a framework for our civil nuclear cooperation," he added.


The agreement was signed at the sidelines of the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting and related activities in San Francisco, California.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the 123 Agreement was the fastest that the U.S. has come to seal, describing it as the first “major step” in stepping up the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States.

Marcos said his administration will be very glad to pursue nuclear energy as part of the country’s energy mix by 2032 through the partnership forged with the American providers.

“We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippine energy mix by 2032, and we would be more than happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners,” Marcos said in his remarks during the signing ceremony of the 123 Agreement.

"I know our companies are eager to advance discussions on potential projects. Just yesterday, the MOU between Morocco and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. was also presented to me. So I believe congratulations are in order for the work of our respective negotiating teams, especially to the teams from the – from the team from the United States," he added.

Philippine Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla noted that nuclear energy wasn't new to the country.

In 1971, the National Power Corp. was authorized by law to establish and operate nuclear power plants. However, a nuclear power plant was built but never operated.

"The Philippine decision was nevertheless followed by an orderly and safe cessation of activities. More importantly, the 1987 Philippine constitution remained open to all peaceful uses of nuclear energy," Lotilla said.

"Every step of the way, the agreement recognizes adherence to standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said.

"Beyond nuclear power applications to combat climate change, the new agreement facilitates bilateral cooperation in a wide array of other peaceful uses of atomic energy, all supportive of various sustainable development goals, including plant breeding, livestock production, insect pest control, soil and crop management, water use efficiency, plastic waste disposal, food safety, health, and medicine," Lotilla added.

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