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Energy security aced

“The agreement also paves the way for streamlining the licensing requirements for the private sector concerning investments in intangible transfers of technology.

The country has just entered the most crucial phase of its strengthened engagement with the United States after the superpower committed to help in the development of nuclear energy as a source of energy.

The Philippines had adopted measures to make nuclear energy part of the generation mix but the source of the technology and fuel became bugging questions.

Among those initially identified as a partner for the nuclear program were South Korea and Russia.

When President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. assumed power, it was then that the United States offered its assistance under the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, also known as the 123 Agreement.

Last November, the Philippines and US governments signed the nuclear development agreement in San Francisco, California but the deal needed US Congress approval.

The imprimatur of the Capitol was needed to seal the nuclear technology deal.

The US State Department announced the deal has started to come into force since 2 July indicating that US Congress approval was obtained.

The US government said the assistance would be crucial in assisting the country in both addressing energy security and its aim to use clean energy and attain its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement allows for the transfer of information, nuclear material, equipment, and components directly between the Philippines and the US or through persons authorized by their respective authorities to engage in transfer activities.

The agreement also paves the way for streamlining the licensing requirements for the private sector concerning investments in intangible transfers of technology.

While the Philippines built Asia’s first nuclear power plant in Bataan, it has not used the facility due to misplaced fears about the technology.

The first nuclear facility was built by American firm Westinghouse and it has a twin in South Korea which has been efficiently providing electricity since 1978.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was caught in a bitter political rivalry and during the term of the late President Cory Aquino it was decided by her government to mothball the plant despite the huge investments infused into it.

According to Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, the Philippines and US engagement on nuclear energy dated back to 1955 when President Ramon Magsaysay joined the Atoms for Peace Program initiated by US President Dwight Eisenhower, in which both nations pledged nuclear energy applications both for power and non-power uses.

A good part of the credit for sealing the nuclear agreement should go to the previous administration.

In March 2022, then President Rodrigo Duterte signed an Executive Order outlining the government’s position on the inclusion of nuclear energy in the energy mix.

President Marcos included the deployment of nuclear energy among his campaign pledges.

“We see nuclear energy becoming a part of the Philippine energy mix by 2032, and we would be more than happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners,” Marcos said at the signing of the 123 Agreement last year.

“The signing of the agreement is the first major step in opening the doors for US companies to invest and participate in nuclear power projects in the country,” he added.

Initially, the Manila Electric Company, the country’s biggest power distributor, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation have undertaken jointly a study on the use of nuclear technology, primarily the deployment of one or more Micro-Modular Reactors.

The dawn of the nuclear age is at hand for the country which is the final piece of the puzzle for the Philippines becoming an economic power in the region.

Credit belongs to: tribune.net.ph

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