Despite concerns over nuclear safety, Vietnam is choosing to continue its plans for peaceful nuclear energy, with existing plans aiming to build four new nuclear plants that would generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity. Believing that Vietnam can learn safety lessons from the recent catastrophe in Japan, and convinced that nuclear energy is a preferred method of supplying energy to meet its tremendous population growth, Vietnam has decided to move forward with its existing plans.
Report and Analysis: Vietnam Holds on to Nuclear Policy to Drive Growth [Bankgok Post, 6 June 2011]
On the other hand, the Vice President of Myanmar, Tin Aung Myint Oo, told United States Senator John McCain that Myanmar “does not have enough economic strength” to develop nuclear weapons, and has halted peaceful nuclear research as well.
Report and Analysis: Myanmar too poor for nuclear arms [The Straits Times, 3 June 2011]
At the recent ASEAN Member Summit in Jakarta, the leaders of ASEAN agreed to adopt IAEA standards on nuclear power safety following the nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Report: ASEAN Promotes IAEA Nuclear Safety Standard [Mainichi Daily News, 9 May 2011]
There is also an upcoming meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials to be held in Surabaya, East Java on June 7-11, prior to the 18th ASEAN Regional Forum. The meeting will include the second Meeting of the Working Group of the Executive Committee of the SEANWFZ.
Signed by 10 ASEAN countries in Bangkok on December 15, 1995, the SEANWFZ Treaty mandates that signatories will not use or threaten the use of nuclear weapons against any state party to the treaty, or within the South East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.
The five Nuclear Weapons States recognized by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, US, UK, Russia, China and France, have refused to sign the protocols.
Report: Surabaya to Host ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting [Asia Pulse, 2 June 2011].
The U.S. has thus far refused to sign the Protocol to the SEANWFZ due to concerns that the treaty overly limits freedom of navigation, presents the possibility for territorial disputes, and is too liberal in its negative security assurances to the region.
Some argue, however, that the United States’ hesitance to sign the treaty is in violation of its duties under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to support the spread of regional nuclear weapons-free zones and provide legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapons states.
Report and Analysis: SEANWFZ Enters Into Force; U.S. Considers Signing Protocol [Arms Control Association]