PNRI official: PH open to nuclear deals with other countries

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2022 05:08 PM | Updated as of Nov 29 2022 05:20 PM

MANILA — The Philippines remains open to holding nuclear power talks with other countries even as Manila begins working on a possible agreement with the United States, an official said on Tuesday.

The "123 agreement" between Manila and Washington — which will provide the legal basis for the export of American nuclear equipment to the Philippines — was announced during the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris last week.

“It does not lock us into the American negotiation policy. Bukas pa din tayo sa ibang bansa,” said Carlo Arcilla, executive director of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

South Korea is among the countries that have offered to help the Philippines in the nuclear power sector, he said.

“‘Yung South Korea, mayroon silang exact model ng planta natin na tumatakbo din ng halos 40 anyos,” he said.

“Puwede daw nilang patakbuhin yung planta within 5 years. Yan po ang pinakamabilis na paraan para magkaroon ng nuclear power sa bansa kahit na 620 megawatts,” he said, noting that building a nuclear plant with more advanced reactors may be completed between 8 and 10 years.

France, China, and Japan are also known users of nuclear energy and may provide assistance to the Philippines should President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. decide to pursue the power option, Arcilla said.

“Yung pinakaimportante diyan ay South Korea kasi… siya ang active at isa sa mga bansang bagong nakapagpagawa ng nuclear plants… Nag-offer din sila sa Pilipinas na buhayin ang BNPP,” he said.

“Nagpahiwatig na ang South Korea na makipag-deal sa atin… Ang desisyon pong iyan ay manggagaling sa Presidente,” he said.

While other countries may also start nuke discussions with the Philippines, Arcilla underscored that the United States and its “123 agreement” is still crucial to the development of nuclear technology in the country.

“Kung wala ito, hindi makakapag-export sa Pilipinas yung mga kumpanya ng Amerika na marunong sa nuclear technology or yung mga consultant, mga expert na puwede nating gawing consultant,” he said.

“Ang Amerika po ang pinaka-experienced na bansa pagdating sa nuclear power. Mayroon silang 92 working nuclear power plants, average age 60 years, so sila ang may pinakamaraming nuclear plant sa buong mundo,” he said.

Earlier this year, Marcos said he wants to see if the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, a shelved project from his father and namesake’s administration, could still be used to help address the country’s power supply woes.