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USA trying to use Philippines as a guinea pig for its unviable small nuclear reactors – and for military purposes.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

Save the country from the perils of nuclear reactors, NAKED THOUGHT

https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/12/03/opinion/columns/save-the-country-from-the-perils-of-nuclear-reactors/1868797

By Charlie V. Manalo, December 3, 2022

AS the United States government, invoking provisions of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), requests for additional military bases, five on the island of Luzon alone, the idea of the country playing host to mobile nuclear reactors is not far-fetched.

This is for the simple reason that whoever crafted the agreement made it so vague, it did not provide for any restrictions on the type of facilities and materials the US would be using in constructing its bases in the Philippines.

And this has been aggravated further by the enactment of the Public Service Law which opens the country’s airports to foreign ownership, giving the US all the resources needed to construct its own airports which it could use as military bases under the guise of a commercial airport.

Anyway, former congressman Terry Ridon, convenor of Infrawatch Philippines, sent me a copy of an article he wrote on the subject, explaining clearly its implications. It’s entitled, “Reject mobile nuclear reactors in PH bases-Infrawatch Philippines,” which I’m publishing in its entirety.

“With recent plans by the US Department of Defense to build an advanced mobile nuclear microreactor prototype in Idaho, Manila should not allow Washington to use Philippine military bases as prototype areas for these reactors.

According to an April report by The Associated Press, the US DoD ‘signed off on the Project Pele plan to build the reactor and reactor fuel outside of Idaho and then assemble and operate the reactor at the lab.’

As this is a project initiated by the US defense department, its military objectives had been disclosed by Jeff Waksman, project manager for Project Pele, saying, “Advanced nuclear power has the potential to be a strategic game-changer for the United States, both for the (Department of Defense) and for the commercial sector.”

The US DoD further said that the reactor designs are ‘high-temperature gas-cooled reactors using enriched uranium for fuel.’

PH microreactor deployment

Under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, there are no restrictions to Washington on the type of facilities and materials it will construct and install in Philippine military bases, except a specific restriction against installing nuclear weapons.

However, Philippine authorities should be reminded that this restriction does not assuage fears that the country will not be involved in regional military conflicts because EDCA allows the installation of conventional military weapons which may approximate the breadth and fatal impact of nuclear weapons.

More importantly, in the event that nuclear microreactors are produced by the US DoD at scale, these small nuclear plants can, in fact, be installed in EDCA locations in different parts of the country.

This is alarming because the country has yet to decide and implement its national policy on nuclear development based on the policy direction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In fact, it needs to be made clear that nuclear microreactors in EDCA locations in the country will not be used for civilian purposes but for military objectives by the United States in the Indo-Pacific.

This distinction alone should give the current government pause on allowing nuclear microreactors to be deployed in EDCA locations in the future.

More importantly, military nuclear microreactors will allow Washington to deploy different kinds of weapons to influence the security arrangement in the South China Sea and the greater Indo-Pacific.

Military purposes

Further, as nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas will certainly be used for military purposes, this might prompt other regional actors to accuse Manila of violating the Bangkok Treaty, the treaty declaring Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapons-free zone and other weapons of mass destruction.

With a military nuclear microreactor in Philippine soil, Washington may be able to operate high-powered conventional military weapons which may be equivalent to weapons of mass destruction.

Certainly, Manila should follow its treaty obligations in the region, particularly as other strong powers are also looking at Manila to temper its pivot toward Washington.

Finally, allowing this kind of deployment in EDCA areas diminishes the current call of President Marcos to carefully proceed with nuclear research and development for civilian purposes.

The focus of the government should be considering whether nuclear energy should be part of the current energy mix and whether the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should be revived.

It should also consider developing other aspects of nuclear technology, which can benefit health care and other critically important sectors.

As such, allowing nuclear microreactors in EDCA areas or anywhere in the Philippines should not be on the agenda.”

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December 2, 2022 - Posted by | Philippines, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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