May 2024
AIIB ASEAN ASEAN (R) ASEAN-ISIS Asia Big Tech CH: Hong Kong Country (R): Indonesia Country (R): Malaysia Country (R): Myanmar Country (R): Singapore Country: ASEAN Country: Australia Country: Cambodia Country: China Country: Germany Country: India Country: Indonesia Country: Japan Country: Laos Country: Malaysia Country: Myanmar Country: North Korea Country: Philippines Country: Qatar Country: Russia Country: Singapore Country: South Korea Country: Taiwan Country: Thailand Country: UK Country: United States Country: US Country: USA Country: Vietnam covid-19 DE: 5G DE: Data privacy DE: Data security DE: Facebook Digitalisation Elections: Indonesia 2019 Elections: Thailand 2019 ESG: Climate Change ESG: Diversity ESG: Energy ESG: Green Finance ESG: Green Growth ESG: Haze ESG: Human Rights ESG: Modern Slavery ESG: Peatland ESG: Riau ESG: Smallholders ESG: Sustainability ESG: Sustainable/Green Infrastructure European Union Event: SDSWR Events: AAF Fukushima Global Citizens Singapore Indonesia: Jokowi Institute: ERIA Institute: SIIA JP: Abenomics Leaders: Kim Jong Un Leaders: Lee Hsien Loong Megatrends: Populism MM: Aung San Suu Kyi MM: NLD MM: Rakhine State MY: Anwar Ibrahim MY: GE14 MY: Mahathir Mohamad MY: Najib Razak New Horizons New Zealand Nicholas Fang Oh Ei Sun Recovery Region: European Union Region: Latin America Region: Middle East Reports Security: South China Sea Security: Terrorism SG: Lee Kuan Yew SG: SG Secure SG: Smart Nation SG: Society Simon Tay Sustainable infrastructure Topic (R): Belt and Road Topic (R): Business Topic (R): Digitisation Topic (R): Economy Topic (R): Green Finance Topic (R): Haze Topic (R): Infrastructure Topic (R): Palm Oil Topic (R): Peatland Topic (R): Smallholders Topic (R): Sustainability Topic: Anti-Globalisation Topic: Belt and Road Topic: Business Topic: Coronavirus Topic: COVID-19 Topic: Deforestation Topic: Development Topic: Digital Economy Topic: Digitisation Topic: E-Commerce Topic: Economics Topic: Economy Topic: Elections Topic: Environment Topic: ESG Topic: Finance Topic: Global Citizens Topic: Globalisation Topic: Human Trafficking Topic: Indo-Pacific Topic: Infrastructure Topic: Investment Topic: Labour Topic: Nuclear Topic: Palm Oil Topic: Race Topic: Regional Integration Topic: Religion Topic: Security Topic: Singapore-Malaysia Relations Topic: Small States Topic: Trade Trade: AEC Trade: CPTPP Trade: FTA Trade: Multilateralism Trade: RCEP Trade: TPP Trade: War Trends (Digital): Cybersecurity UK: Brexit United States US: Obama US: Trump US: Trump WEF youth

Towards a Regional Nuclear Energy Safety Regime in Southeast Asia

02 Dec Towards a Regional Nuclear Energy Safety Regime in Southeast Asia

SIIA Executive Director Nicholas Fang wrote a chapter for a new book, “Mapping State and Non-State Actors’ Responses to Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia”, edited by Mr. Nur Azha Putra of the Energy Studies Institute and Dr. Mely Caballero-Anthony of NTU.

The book discusses policy issues and challenges surrounding the development of nuclear power energy in Southeast Asia (SEA). A brief summary of Mr. Fang’s chapter is below.

Towards a Regional Nuclear Energy Safety Regime in Southeast Asia

The ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have in principle committed to regional cooperation on nuclear safety. Despite this pledge, ASEAN’s activities in this area have thus far been modest.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have all expressed interest in building nuclear power plants, but they have postponed their plans by at least some degree following the Fukushima Daiichi accident. At this point, it will likely be at least a decade before ASEAN sees its first operational nuclear plant, most likely in Vietnam. There is thus no immediate sense of urgency regarding the issue.

In addition, ASEAN member states are already cooperating on a bilateral basis with countries that have mature nuclear energy programmes, or have sought regulatory and technical advice directly from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which further lessens interest in regional collaboration on nuclear safety.

However, given South-east Asia’s geography and the relatively small size of most ASEAN countries, a nuclear accident at a power plant in ASEAN would inevitably result in environmental damage across national boundaries. It is therefore logical that ASEAN establish mechanisms or plans for both crisis prevention and emergency response in the event of a nuclear accident. Multilateral cooperation on nuclear safety would also help preserve and grow trust between countries in the region, an objective that is aligned with ASEAN’s traditional role.

Regional cooperation on energy issues also meshes with the current ASEAN agenda of building closer integration and connectivity, in line with the grouping’s ASEAN Community established at the end of 2015.

So far, ASEAN’s regional cooperation on nuclear issues been more symbolic than substantial. In the short to medium term, ASEAN could further develop its Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSC), concentrating on capacity building, training, as well as the formulation of joint emergency preparedness and response plans. In the long term, it may be viable for ASEAN to establish a more formal regional nuclear safety regime offering organised economic, legal and regulatory support to its member nations.

Regardless of the model adopted, regional nuclear safety cooperation should ideally complement rather than compete with the global IAEA nuclear safety regime. ASEAN must also ensure any of its own regional arrangements are efficient, transparent and credible. As ASEAN countries move closer to seeing their first nuclear reactors come online, it is important that they continue to send the right signals to the broader international community.

For the time being, it seems the prospect of operational nuclear power plants in ASEAN is sufficiently far-off for countries to take a “wait and see” attitude. But it is important that both governments and the public start discussing these issues. The March 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi provides an important lesson on the dangers of complacency that ASEAN cannot afford to ignore.

Book Details


Nur Azha Putra, Mely Caballero-Anthony, eds. (2016) Mapping State and Non-State Actors’ Responses to Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN: 978-981-4723-20-6