US, Philippines Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact

The United States and the Philippines have recently established a nuclear cooperation agreement, aimed at facilitating the Southeast Asian country’s shift towards cleaner energy sources while enhancing its power infrastructure. This agreement was formalized during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken present at the ceremony.

President Marcos, witnessing the signing by his energy secretary and Blinken, expressed optimism about incorporating nuclear energy into the Philippines’ energy portfolio by 2032. He highlighted the agreement, known as a Section 123 agreement, as pivotal in fostering the development of sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective power in the Philippines and opening opportunities for U.S. firms to invest in nuclear power projects in the country.

Blinken remarked on the expedited nature of the negotiations with the Philippines, noting that it took just a year to complete the talks for the Section 123 agreement, a requirement under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act for the transfer of nuclear technology and materials for non-military purposes.

Blinken also acknowledged the Philippines’ ambitious goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030. Considering the country’s projected quadrupling of peak energy demand by 2040, nuclear energy is seen as a vital component in achieving these targets sustainably.

The collaboration will allow for the deployment of advanced technologies, including small modular reactors, which Blinken noted are especially suitable for the Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,000 islands. These reactors, some comparable in size to a city bus, offer a practical solution for local and decentralized energy generation.

The Philippines had previously embarked on developing a nuclear power plant, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, during the 1970s. However, this project was halted due to concerns about costs, safety, and its proximity to a significant fault line and the Pinatubo volcano.

The United States currently maintains 23 Section 123 agreements, facilitating peaceful nuclear cooperation with 47 countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Taiwan.