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Philippines reaffirms stance against use of nuclear weapons

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Philippines reaffirms stance against use of nuclear weapons
Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations Carlos Sorreta delivers the Philippine statement at the 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) High-Level Summit in New York.
Twitter / Philippine Mission to the UN

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines reaffirmed its stance against using nuclear weapons and instead promoted the use of nuclear energy for other peaceful means. 

The statement comes just as treaty party representatives from around the world attend the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which kicked off on Monday in New York and will continue until August 26. 

“The humanitarian consequences of [the] use of nuclear weapons are too unimaginable to consider. No nuclear weapons should ever be used and there is nothing that justifies their salience in the military and security doctrine of any nation,” Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo said in a statement on Monday evening.

Manila emphasized that international instruments such as the NPT “are fundamental to a rules-based international order that sustains the security of nations and the conditions for our peoples to thrive in peace."

The Philippines also said that the NPT serves as an important avenue to “enhance transparency and establish security dialogue mechanisms among relevant regional actors.”

The treaty, which entered into force in 1970, aims to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and their technology. Conference participants are now tasked to look into how the treaty is being implemented.

“The Review Conference is an opportunity to affirm that the Treaty is on a solid footing 50 years after its adoption, and the spirit of constructive multilateralism prevails among nations, notwithstanding geopolitical challenges and conflicts,” Manalo said.

The Philippines also emphasized that the NPT is important in keeping nuclear states in the direction of getting rid of their stockpiles as well as discussing the modernization of nuclear arsenals. 

“We support efforts towards nuclear risk reduction as an intervening measure while we work towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations Carlos Sorreta said during the review conference.

Russia’s war on Ukraine

Meanwhile, in their respective addresses for the review conference, both International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about Russia’s recent move to seize Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

It is said to be the largest in Europe and is one of the 10 biggest nuclear power plants in the world.

READ: Russia is tightening its grip on Ukraine nuclear plant, says U.N. watchdog

“Russia is now using the plant as a military base to fire at Ukrainians, knowing that they can’t and won’t shoot back because they might accidentally strike a nuclear — a reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage,” Blinken said in his remarks.

“That brings the notion of having a human shield to an entirely different and horrific level.” 

Blinken noted that for Washington’s part, it will not use any of its own nuclear weapons. He said they will only look at using these weapons should there be nuclear attacks against the US, its allies, and partners and will only “consider” the use of the weapons in extreme circumstances.

Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant comes after it also seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and exclusion zone. 

READ: Ukraine warns of radiation after Chernobyl seized by Russians 

IAEA’s Grossi said "every single one” of its seven pillars of nuclear safety and security has been compromised at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. This means that nuclear facilities are not being maintained, safety and security systems are not fully functional at all times, among others. 

Nuclear as power source amid crisis

However, Grossi also noted nuclear energy generation’s potential role, along with renewable energy resources, in alleviating the world’s energy crisis. 

“In Member States with established programs, the IAEA provides support for safe lifetime extensions and in the management of radioactive waste,” Grossi said.

The IAEA likewise supports “newcomer countries” in creating infrastructure and institutions that would provide a safe and sustainable nuclear energy program.

Grossi said 32 countries are already generating 394 gigawatts of electricity through 440 nuclear power reactors and 55 more reactors are under construction across 17 countries. These are seen to generate a capacity of nearly 57 gigawatts once completed.

“Asia is seeing the highest capacity growth, with major economies building and investing heavily in nuclear power,” Grossi said. 

Back home, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has repeatedly said that the country needs to “re-examine” its strategy on nuclear power plants and look into developing fossil gas to aid in its current energy crisis. 

READ: Marcos pushes for gas, nuclear development alongside renewables 

France said it is already in the “early stages” of discussions to help Manila achieve its goal of introducing nuclear into its energy mix. 

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

IAEA

UNITED NATIONS

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