On Friday, the United States and the Philippines signed a significant agreement enabling Washington to export nuclear technology and material to Manila. This deal is crucial for the Philippines, which is exploring nuclear power as a means to decarbonize and enhance energy independence.
During a signing ceremony at the APEC Summit in San Francisco, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the agreement allows the United States to share equipment and material with the Philippines for the development of small modular reactors and other civilian nuclear energy infrastructure.
Negotiations for the 123 Agreement commenced in November 2022. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr expressed optimism about nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippines’ energy mix by 2032, emphasizing the positive collaboration with the United States in this endeavor.
In a speech, Marcos highlighted nuclear energy as an area demonstrating the effectiveness of the Philippines-U.S. alliance. However, U.S. The deal requires Congress approval to ensure a peaceful transfer of nuclear material, equipment, and information in accordance with non-proliferation requirements.
As of the end of 2022, the United States had 23 agreements covering 47 countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and democratically governed Taiwan.
The Philippines aims to incorporate nuclear power into its energy sources by retiring coal plants, aligning with climate goals, and enhancing energy security. The nation faces challenges such as volatile global oil prices, seasonal power outages, and high electricity rates.
President Marcos has discussed the potential revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, despite previous halts to attempts to pursue nuclear energy in the Philippines due to safety concerns. Completed in 1984, the plant was mothballed in 1986 following the ouster of Marcos’s father, the late Philippines strongman, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and corruption allegations.