Nuclear Cooperation Memoranda of Understanding (NCMOUs) are diplomatic instruments designed develop stronger ties between the U.S. and partner countries to support the development of strategic civil nuclear cooperation. The NCMOUs help partners build infrastructure for the responsible use of nuclear energy and technology including strong standards for nuclear safety, security, and safeguards. NCMOUs can be a precursor to a formal agreement of nuclear cooperation (123 agreement) but are a flexible method of extending U.S. nuclear energy outreach to counter Russia’s extensive civil nuclear engagement around the world as well as China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The formal 123 agreements are legally necessary to enable exports of nuclear materials and equipment. With NCMOUs as a new tool, cooperative relationships in the field can begin prior to a formal 123 agreement.
The maps below identify eight countries that have signed NCMOUs with the United States: Ghana, Kenya, Armenia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and the Philippines. These agreements are important but the number is notably lower than the over 30 countries identified by the World Nuclear Association as considering, planning, or starting nuclear power programs. Many of these countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa are not currently NCMOU partners.
Alex de Ramon, Della Ratta Fellow, Partnership for Global Security