Philippines, Russia agree to explore possible building of nuclear power plants

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President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Russian leader Vladimir Putin (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 5) — An agreement to explore the possible construction of nuclear power plants in the country was among the business deals signed during President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Russia, Malacañang confirmed Saturday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced that the Philippines signed a total of 10 business agreements with Russia, estimated to be worth $12.57 million or around ₱650 million.

These cover a wide range of areas, including an "intention to jointly explore the prospects of cooperation in the construction of nuclear power plants," Panelo said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in an earlier statement expressed Russia's interest in "promoting industrial cooperation and joint projects in the peaceful use of nuclear energy."

READ: PH-Russia work towards stronger defense ties

Russian media earlier reported that the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation offered to build floating nuclear power plants in the Philippines. Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev was quoted as saying the Philippines can also reboot its existing power plant or build another station.

The country's first and only nuclear power station, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, never became operational due to issues of corruption and safety, compounded by the fear following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The mothballed project was revisited in 2018 as the Philippines' looked for other sources to meet the growing demand for power. Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev, however, told CNN Philippines that the plant was beyond revival because of its "absolutely outdated" technology.

Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said preliminary talks are underway on how Russua could participate in the Philippines' possible use of nuclear energy.

In November 2017, the Department of Energy inked a memorandum of understanding with Rosatom, which the Foreign Affairs Department said covers cooperation on the various uses of nuclear energy. The Department of Science and Technology also signed an agreement with Rosatom on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, which took effect in December 2018. The agreement covers workshops, training of personnel, and the exchange of scientific information.

Other deals signed between the Philippines and Russia include supplying tuna, sardines, and cocconut products to the Russian market, as well as the distribution, promotion, and sale of Russian-made watches, vehicles, and medical techonologies in the Philippines, Malacañang said.