Policy Brief No. 86
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This policy brief by Andhika Yudha Prawira, PhD candidate at the Korea Advanced Institue of Science and Technology (KAIST) and lecturer at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, assesses the unique security and nuclear safeguards challenges in the emerging field of small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear energy technology.
More than 20 countries are developing SMRs designed to fulfill the need for flexible power generation with a wide range of possible applications. SMRs offer several advantages compared to the large conventional nuclear power plant in operation today, including inherent safety features, the potential to decarbonize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower upfront capital costs, better flexibility, and better economies of scale. However, there are real concerns about the potential security and proliferation risks posed by SMR technologies.
Security and safeguard challenges may arise based on the SMRs’ design, transportability, potential siting and deployment, and cost reduction measures. Security arrangements need to be made with these unique SMR characteristics in mind. Safeguards implementation is also expected to face specific challenges as the existing safeguards approaches may not be suitable to reduce the proliferation risks inherent to SMRs.
This policy brief reviews the complex safety and nuclear non-proliferation considerations inherent to SMR technology and makes specific policy recommendations that, if implemented, would ensure its safe development and deployment.
About the Author
Andhika Yudha Prawira is a PhD candidate at the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea. He is also a lecturer at the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. Andhika obtained his Bachelor of Engineering from the Universitas Gadjah Mada and Masters in Nuclear and Quantum Engineering from KAIST. His research interests include small modular reactors (SMRs) development, nuclear energy policy in Southeast Asia, nuclear security, and nuclear non-proliferation.
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Image credit: Radiation protection areas within a nuclear facility are indicated with caution signs. United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.