U.S-PH Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in Effect

by Ricky Rillera

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Philippines Department of Energy Secretary Lotilla participate in the Philippines 123 Signing Ceremony in San Francisco, California, November 16, 2023. Looking on is Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., left, and U.S. Assistant Secretary Daniel J. Kritenbrink. | Photo by U.S. State Department/Chuck Kennedy via Wikimedia Commons

NEW YORK – The U.S.-Philippines Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, also known as the 123 Agreement, entered into force on July 2, 2024. It enhances cooperation between the United States and the Philippines regarding clean energy and security. The agreement allows transferring nuclear material, equipment, and information for research and civil nuclear energy production. The two countries contribute to global climate change goals and energy security targets by fostering collaboration.

The “agreement builds on the nearly 80 years of peaceful nuclear cooperation between our nations and establishes a framework for continued U.S. civil nucldar trade with the Philippines. . . part of broader U.S. efforts to develop the Philipines’ civil nuclear sector,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of State. “Our government is committed to working with the Philippines to advance each of these areas and we look forward to further building our partnership together.”

The statement further stated that the “agreement provides a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear material, equipment (including reactors), components, and information for nuclear research and civil nuclear energy production.”

The agreement emerged through diplomatic negotiations between the United States and the Philippines. It reflects their shared interest in clean energy and facilitates collaboration, technology exchange, and capacity-building in nuclear power.

Potential benefits for the Phillippines

Nuclear energy offers several potential benefits for the Philippines, such as energy security. Nuclear power can diversify the country’s energy sources, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and provide a stable and reliable energy supply.

Nuclear plants emit minimal greenhouse gases during operation, contributing to climate change mitigation. Nuclear reactors provide constant electricity (base load) without fluctuations, complementing intermittent renewable sources.

Building and operating nuclear facilities create engineering, construction, and maintenance jobs. Uranium, used in nuclear reactors, is abundant globally, ensuring long-term fuel availability. Nuclear technology fosters scientific research and innovation in various fields.

However, addressing safety, waste management, and public perception is essential to maximize these benefits.

Key milestones before finalization of the agreement

Before its finalization, the U.S.-Philippines Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement underwent several key milestones, such as negotiation and drafting. Diplomatic teams from both countries engaged in negotiations to draft the agreement terms, addressing legal, technical, and security aspects.

Secondly, legal experts reviewed the draft to ensure compliance with international law, national regulations, and bilateral interests.

Thirdly, the agreement received approval from relevant government bodies, including the U.S. Congress and the Philippine Senate.

Fourth, the agreement was signed by representatives of both nations on November 16, 2023, during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California, symbolizing their commitment to cooperation in nuclear energy.

Finally, the Philippine Senate ratified the agreement, making it legally binding. Today, July 2, 2024, the agreement officially took effect, marking a significant step in bilateral relations.

Key provisions of the agreement

The agreement includes several key provisions:

  1. Nuclear Cooperation: The agreement facilitates collaboration in nuclear research, development, and peaceful use of nuclear energy. It also allows the exchange of nuclear material, technology, and expertise between the two countries.
  2. Safeguards and Security: Both nations commit to maintaining robust safeguards and security measures to prevent the misuse of nuclear materials. It ensures safety and prevents proliferation risks.
  3. Research and Development: The agreement encourages joint research projects, technology development, and knowledge sharing related to nuclear energy.
  4. Capacity Building: It promotes training and capacity-building programs for nuclear professionals, enhancing expertise in nuclear science and technology.
  5. Environmental Protection: The agreement emphasizes ecological stewardship and sustainable practices in nuclear energy production.

While specific projects under the agreement have not been explicitly disclosed, the agreement encourages joint research and development initiatives. These could include collaborative efforts in nuclear technology, safety protocols, and sustainable energy solutions. As the partnership evolves, we can expect more details on specific projects to emerge.

Specific follow-up meetings or events related to nuclear cooperation between the United States and the Philippines have not been publicly disclosed. However, both countries will likely engage in ongoing discussions, joint research initiatives, and capacity-building efforts to enhance their collaboration in clean energy and nuclear technology.

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