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Philippines, US sign nuclear cooperation deal

SAN FRANCISCO — The Philippines and the United States have signed a landmark agreement that will allow Washington to export nuclear technology and equipment to Manila for peaceful uses, a deal seen to help the Marcos administration meet its clean energy goals and lure investments in nuclear energy projects.

The “123 agreement,” signed on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here yesterday, will provide the Philippines access to US nuclear material and equipment. It will also set the framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

The deal is named after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act, which requires the completion of peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement for significant transfers of nuclear material from the US.

The negotiation for the deal was launched during Vice President Kamala Harris’ trip to the Philippines in November last year.

“So just one year later we’re signing the agreement, and that is the fastest that the United States has ever negotiated this kind of agreement,” US State Secretary Antony Blinken said. 

The US has signed more than 20 such deals with other countries. A 123 agreement has to be approved by the US Congress in order to take effect.

“When this agreement goes into effect, the United States will be able to share equipment and material with the Philippines as they work to develop small modular reactors and other civilian nuclear energy infrastructure, and we’ll do so while following the highest standards of safety and security,” Blinken said.

Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla signed the deal for the Philippines while Blinken represented the US during the signing.

“I look forward to seeing this agreement in action in the years to come.  Nuclear energy is one area where we can show that the Philippines-US alliance and partnership truly works — for our peoples, our economies, and the environment,” President Marcos, who witnessed the signing of the deal, said.

Marcos said his administration sees nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippine energy mix by 2032.

“We would be more than happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners,” the President said.