PH, US landmark nuclear pact takes effect

US Embassy Commercial Counselor Paul Taylor (second from left) joins Filipino journalists in an energy security and environment media seminar conducted by the US Embassy in the Philippines’ Public Affairs Section in Iloilo City on July 9, 2024. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The United States Department of State announced on Tuesday, July 9, that the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, known as the “123 Agreement,” between the Philippines and the US has entered into force.

“The agreement will enhance our cooperation on clean energy and energy security and strengthen our long-term bilateral diplomatic and economic relationships,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The 123 Agreement was signed during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in the US in November 2023. It resulted from the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to the Philippines in November 2022.

Meanwhile, US Embassy Commercial Counselor Paul Taylor, in a press conference in Iloilo City on Tuesday, said the initial focus is on “commercial operation on how US companies can connect with their potential partners in the Philippines.”

Taylor is in Iloilo City as a speaker at the energy security and environment media seminar conducted by the US Embassy in the Philippines’ Public Affairs Section.

He also disclosed that the US energy industry working group is set to have its first quarterly meeting in late July, with the Department of Energy (DOE) expected to attend.

Taylor added that the embassy is working on organizing a supplier forum in the country in the second week of November.

“We are expecting US companies to attend in person to have an opportunity to discuss partnerships with the DOE and begin to take concrete steps to create the supply chain that will be needed for several nuclear energy development projects in the Philippines,” Taylor said.

Miller further stated that energy security is becoming a more pressing global issue that necessitates intentional and collaborative efforts.

He emphasized that the agreement will play a crucial role in achieving the shared clean energy objectives of both countries.

“Nuclear energy can help achieve these vital global climate change and energy security targets, and we look forward to exploring new avenues of cooperation with the Philippines in civil nuclear energy and other clean energy initiatives,” he said.

The 123 Agreement provides a legal framework allowing the US to export nuclear material, equipment (including reactors), components, and information for nuclear research and civil nuclear energy production to the Philippines.

The DOE, in its Philippine Energy Plan 2018-2040, is targeting the earliest optimal entry of nuclear energy by 2027.

In 2016, the DOE created the Nuclear Energy Program Implementing Organization, tasked with coordinating the activities of organizations involved in nuclear infrastructure development.

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