- Southeast Asia’s Nuclear Power Thrust: Putting ASEAN’s Effectiveness to the Test?
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 30, Number 1, April 2008
- pp. 118-139
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The possibility of nuclear power in Southeast Asia to help meet huge growth in electricity demand has suddenly risen in government planning. Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand have plans for nuclear power generation while Malaysia and the Philippines are studying the option. These plans and possibilities raise a gamut of economic, environmental and security issues and fears which policy makers are only beginning to grapple with. As in other parts of the world, both where there are established nuclear generation industries and where there are not, nuclear power is being turned to as a possible solution to meeting demand when the cost of traditional fossil fuels used for generation, coal and natural gas, are rising steeply, and in a way that mitigates against contribution by fossil fuel combustion to the greenhouse effect and predicted global warming. But how governments in Southeast Asia go about implementing nuclear power is still far from clear. Optimal development from economic, environmental and security points of view would argue for a cooperative approach via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), possibly through an ASEAN nuclear power authority. So far, plans for nuclear power generation are fairly limited when considered against total projected power demand. But they may be the precursor to a much greater commitment to nuclear power if first plants are successfully developed. Managing the development of nuclear power will be a major test of ASEAN’s maturity and effectiveness.