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Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the Philippines 123 Agreement Signing Ceremony

MS GANZER:  Good evening, everyone.  My name is Ann Ganzer.  I am the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.  And it is my pleasure to welcome you all here today in San Francisco for this momentous occasion: the signing of a civil nuclear cooperation – or 123 Agreement – between the United States and the Philippines.  

The signing of this agreement marks the culmination of negotiations between our governments launched less than one year ago.  Once in force, this agreement will provide the legal basis and facilitate U.S. exports of most nuclear equipment and materiel to the Philippines for peaceful uses.  The United States is committed to working with the Philippines to expand our cooperation on nuclear safety, nuclear security, and non-proliferation, while meeting our shared climate goals as well as supporting workers and business in both countries.

This signing significantly advances our partnership in civil nuclear cooperation with the Philippines, and I must extend my gratitude – our gratitude – to the Philippines for their expedient coordination of this important process.  

Thank you for joining us all here.  I would like to invite Secretary Blinken to share his remarks, followed by the Philippines Department of Energy Secretary Lotilla.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  (Applause.) 

Well, good evening, everyone.  And thank you not only for that introduction, but for steering our Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.  Mr. President, it is an honor to be with you again.  Thank you for your presence this evening, and thank you especially for your leadership on so many of the goals that we share in common for the Indo-Pacific, the region that we share.  Secretary Lotilla, Secretary Manalo, Ambassador Romualdez – thanks to each of you for your partnership in bringing our nations to this moment.  

More than 70 years ago, the Philippines and the United States forged an alliance based on the shared interests and values of our people.  And in the decades since, we’ve consistently expanded our partnership to meet the biggest challenges that our people face.  Today, we take another step to do that by deepening our cooperation to accelerate the transition to clean energy in the Philippines. 

President Marcos has set an ambitious goal: cutting the Philippines greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030 and increasing the production of clean energy so that 50 percent comes from renewable sources by the year 2040.  The United States is committed to working with the Philippines so that it can meet those targets – using platforms like the very first U.S.-Philippines Energy Policy Dialogue, which we hosted in Seattle back in August.

The United States is working with the American and Philippine private sectors to develop a geothermal power project in Mindanao.  We’re helping to lay the groundwork for offshore wind projects so that we’ll ultimately generate enough electricity to power 2 million homes.  We’re mobilizing additional investments from American and Philippine power companies, with the aim of providing more than half of the Philippines’ energy usage through clean sources, like solar, by the year 2026.  

With the Philippines’ leadership, we’re also working together to develop a nuclear energy sector in their country to fuel a reliable, secure, and affordable clean energy future.  As peak energy demands are expected to nearly quadruple in the Philippines by 2040, nuclear power can consistently produce enough energy to meet communities’ critical needs without emitting more greenhouse gases.  In a nation of more than 7,000 islands, small modular reactors – some just the size of a city bus – can generate energy locally and conveniently.  

Nuclear energy will also create inclusive economic opportunities for American and Filipino businesses alike, and good-quality, high-paying jobs in both of our countries.  All of these are reasons why today we are signing this 123 Agreement – to create a framework for our civil nuclear cooperation.  

When Vice President Harris visited the Philippines last November, she announced that we were starting to develop this arrangement, 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.  It is a testament to two things: to the high priority that this issue is for both of our countries, and to how closely we’re collaborating.  And I just want to echo the gratitude, Mr. President, to your extraordinary team for the work that we’ve been able to do in such a short period of time.

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, and while complying with our international non-proliferation commitments.  Already, we’ve organized workshops, we’ve hosted exchanges on these topics with American and Filipino researchers, officials, business leaders – to help train local experts and to share some of our best practices.

Now, there’s a lot of work that remains ahead to turn this vision into concrete reality, but by signing this agreement today, we’re moving a step closer toward shaping a better future for our planet and building a world that’s more secure, more prosperous, more stable for all of our people.  

And with that, I’m very happy to turn over to Secretary Lotilla.  Thank you very, very much. (Applause.) 

SECRETARY LOTILLA:  His Excellency President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, ladies and gentlemen – good afternoon.  In signing the agreement before us today, we revisit an enduring cooperative effort between the Philippines and the United States on harnessing civilian nuclear power for sustainable development.  

Let us step a bit back for a quick recall.  A decade after the first atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, the Philippines, under President Ramon Magsaysay, joined in 1955 the Atoms for Peace program initiated by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.  Building on this foundation, the succeeding administration, led by President Carlos Garcia, established in 1958 the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission.  President Diosdado Macapagal in turn initiated in 1963 the pre-investment study for a nuclear power plant in Luzon.  

The pace of Philippine nuclear power development efforts step up under President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., with the signing of a new Philippine-U.S. agreement for cooperation concerning civil uses of atomic energy on 13th June, 1968.  This agreement superseded the 1955 agreement and, for the first time, explicitly referred to the design, construction, and operation of power-producing reactors and research reactors.  Three days after, the Philippine congress approve the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act.  

In 1971, the National Power Corporation was authorized by law to establish and operate nuclear power plants.  The rest is more recent history.  A nuclear power plant was built but never operated.  The Philippine decision was nevertheless followed by an orderly and safe cessation of activities.  More importantly, the 1987 Philippine constitution remained open to all peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the negotiation of the present agreement with the U.S. was made possible, its predecessor agreement having expired in 1998.  Every step of the way, the agreement recognizes adherence to standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Beyond nuclear power applications to combat climate change, the new agreement facilitates bilateral cooperation in a wide array of other peaceful uses of atomic energy, all supportive of various sustainable development goals, including plant breeding, livestock production, insect pest control, soil and crop management, water use efficiency, plastic waste disposal, food safety, health, and medicine.

And on behalf, therefore, of the member agencies of the Philippine Nuclear Energy Program-Inter-Agency Committee, we would like to express our sincerest gratitude to President Marcos, Jr. for his support, and to our two countries’ respective negotiating teams for successfully concluding the negotiations leading to the signing of this agreement.  Thank you, and congratulations.  (Applause.) 

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the Republic of the Philippines His Excellency Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.  (Applause.) 

PRESIDENT MARCOS:  Thank you, Secretary Lotilla.  Secretary Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, the members of the cabinet here present, Ambassador Babe Romualdez from – who has come to join us from Washington – ladies and gentlemen, friends – good afternoon.  I am most pleased to be here today to join you this afternoon to witness another milestone towards a more energy-secure and green Philippines.  

During my first state of the nation address, I laid out the plans for ensuring an affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy supply for the entire country in order to meet our growing energy demands – while providing a more investor and consumer friendly environment.  I called then for the re-evaluation of the possibility of safely developing nuclear energy in the Philippines, recognizing the enormous potential of nuclear energy given the new highly advanced technologies and standards of safety, security, and all the different safeguards that are now in place.  

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.  The signing of the Philippine-United States agreement for cooperation concerning peaceful uses of nuclear energy – or the 123 Agreement – is the first major step in this regard, taking our cooperation on capacity building further and actually opening the doors for U.S. companies to invest and participate in nuclear power projects in the country.

I know our companies are eager to advance discussions on potential projects.  Just yesterday, the MOU between Morocco and Ultra Safe Nuclear corporation was also presented to me.  So I believe congratulations are in order for the work of our respective negotiating teams, especially to the teams from the – from the team from the United States, as I am only just been informed that this is the fastest 123 agreement that the United States has come to.  And for that, we are very grateful

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-U.S. alliance and partnership truly works for our peoples, our economies, and the environment.  Thank you, and good afternoon. (Applause.) 

MS GANZER:  I would now like to invite Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink to join us to observe the signing.  And Secretary Blinken, Secretary Lotilla, I invite you to sign the 123 Agreement.

(The agreement was signed.) 

MS GANZER:  Okay, this concludes our ceremony.  Thank you for joining us today. (Applause.)

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-at-the-philippines-123-agreement-signing-ceremony/

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