Key US-PH nuclear energy cooperation negotiations start with Kamala Harris’ visit | Inquirer News

Key US-PH nuclear energy cooperation negotiations start with Kamala Harris’ visit

/ 06:54 AM November 21, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Negotiations between the United States and the Philippines about a key nuclear energy cooperation agreement would be kickstarted by US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Manila, a senior American official said.

In a fact sheet sent to reporters Sunday night by Harris’ office, one of the initiatives that the US Vice President is expected to launch is the start of negotiations for the so-called “123 Agreement” — a deal that the US strikes with allies for nuclear energy cooperation.

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Hinged on the US Atomic Energy Act, the US State Department explains on its webpage that the 123 Agreement refers to Section 123 of the said law, which says partners in nuclear energy cooperation are legally obligated to observe standards and to defer using the deal for nuclear weapons creation.

According to a senior US official, it is important that the Philippines and US start talks on the 123 Agreement so that the US can provide exports of nuclear material and equipment.

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“123 Agreement is the legal basis that the United States needs to expand civil cooperation and it consists of arrangements to ensure that civil nuclear energy cooperation is protected against nuclear weapons procreation, and it’s the basis of our National Security Act that requires such an arrangement in place with the country before we can proceed with the civil cooperation,” he said.

“So it’s quite important that we’re beginning that, we’re announcing that we’re beginning that process with the Philippines, and then once it is completed, we’ll be able to move forward with important civil-nuclear energy cooperation that would important both for climate regions in the Philippines, energy security in the Philippines, and of course exports by the United States that would be to our mutual benefit,” he added.

In the fact sheet, the US Office of the Vice President (OVP) said that the start of the 123 Agreement negotiation is a sign that the global superpower is committed to addressing the Philippines’ energy problems.

“United States is committed to working with the Philippines to increase energy security and deploying advanced nuclear reactor technology as quickly as safety and security conditions permit to meet the Philippines’ dire baseload power needs,” the US OVP said.

“Such a deployment would support both energy security and climate goals, as well support workers and businesses in both countries,” it added.

Philippine officials in recent months have appeared to be leaning towards nuclear energy in hopes of solving the country’s electricity woes.  President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in his State of the Nation Address last July 25 that it might be time for the Philippines to reexamine the state policy on nuclear energy.

During the recently-concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Marcos also implied that he is willing to partner with France regarding nuclear energy, citing its long experience in the said field.

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Harris, who arrived in Manila on Sunday evening, is expected to meet Marcos for a long bilateral meeting on Monday.

Electrification remains a problem for the Philippines: just this early November, Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza asked Congress to probe the budget dispute between the Department of Budget and Management and the National Power Corporation (Napocor), as a lower budget for the latter might lead to inability to pay existing debts to fuel providers.

If fuel providers cease giving Napocor its needs to distribute electricity in 2023, Daza warned that a million households across the country would be affected.

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TAGS: Kamala Harris, nuclear energy
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