Trump Administration sends nuclear cooperation agreements with UK, Mexico to Congress

Published on May 14, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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The White House recently sent new bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements to facilitate commercial nuclear cooperation, also called Section 123 agreements, with the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Mexico to Congress for review.

Due to U.K.’s exit from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 2016, a new bilateral agreement is needed to continue U.S. cooperation with the U.K. nuclear energy sector.

“Because the United Kingdom has announced significant plans to develop new nuclear plants in the years ahead, including possibly small modular reactors, this Section 123 agreement is critical for U.S. nuclear exports and American jobs,” Dan Lipman, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) vice president of Suppliers, New Reactors and International Programs, said.

The U.K. is currently building four large reactors and has expressed interest in small modular reactors (SMRs).

“We commend the Trump Administration for submitting to Congress for review a 123 Agreement with the United Kingdom, which facilitates trade in nuclear technology between our countries,” Lipman said. “The U.K. government’s decision to invest in new nuclear power generation is based on a recognition that nuclear energy is a clean, reliable and emissions-free energy source that reduces the nation’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.”

The agreement between the United States and Mexico will replace a multilateral agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in supporting U.S.-Mexico cooperation. It will reestablish Mexico’s eligibility for general authorization under 10 CFR Part 810, the regulation which governs U.S. nuclear technology exports.

Mexico’s 2015 National Electric System Development Program included plans to commission new reactors. Under the plan’s tentative schedule, they would begin commercial operation by the mid-2020s.

“Affirming our close collaboration with Mexico means our trade in nuclear energy goods and services will continue, supporting jobs and local economies across America,” Lipman said. “This agreement also positions U.S. nuclear companies to compete for significant new opportunities in Mexico, including possibly a multibillion-dollar reactor deal.”

Congress now has 90 days of continuous session to review the two agreements.