US Civil Nuclear Working Group chooses Manila as Southeast Asian headquarters

Photo Courtesy of PNA
Photo Courtesy of PNA

The United States has designated Manila as the Southeast Asian headquarters for its Civil Nuclear Industry Working Group, announced Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary for Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department, during the 6th Indo-Pacific Business Forum.

The establishment of the Civil Nuclear Industry Working Group in the Philippines aims to deepen commercial engagement between the US and Southeast Asia. Kritenbrink highlighted that this industry-led group will connect Philippine partners with US companies, providing advanced technology solutions and best practices to accelerate the Philippines' transition to clean and safe nuclear energy.

"This initiative underscores the deep commitment of the US government to support the Philippines' long-term energy needs and environmental laws while ensuring the secure and safe use of civil nuclear energy," Kritenbrink stated.

In addition to this announcement, the Philippines and the US signed two new memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to advance their civil nuclear partnership under the 123 Agreement. Signed in November 2023, the 123 Agreement allows the Philippines to import and use US-origin nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes.

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Raphael Lotilla signed an MOU with US Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines Mission Director Ryan Washburn to develop and implement a comprehensive civil nuclear energy policy in the Philippines. This MOU supports the country's strategies for achieving a Clean Energy Scenario and developing a smart and green grid plan.

Another MOU was signed with the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF) to create scholarships and academic exchanges focused on civil nuclear and renewable energy.

Kritenbrink emphasized the importance of these agreements in supporting the Philippines' civil nuclear aspirations and building a skilled workforce capable of safely constructing, deploying, and operating nuclear power solutions.

Moreover, the US and the Philippines will host the first-ever nuclear energy suppliers' forum in Manila in November this year. This forum aims to bring together US experts, private sector leaders, and Philippine energy stakeholders to strengthen civil nuclear cooperation between Manila and Washington D.C.

DOE Secretary Lotilla welcomed these initiatives, stating, "In our Philippine Energy Plan for 2023 to 2050, we have included nuclear power for the first time, and we look forward to exploring different opportunities to achieve this goal. We welcome the US government's initiative to establish this working group of US firms interested in offering services in the civil nuclear space."

Lotilla added, "The renewed interest in civilian uses of nuclear power is now viewed by many Southeast Asian countries as a viable option."

The initiatives announced are set to significantly contribute to the Philippines' clean energy goals and strengthen its cooperation with the United States in the civil nuclear sector.


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