Canberra, 18 February 2013. The concept of an Asia Pacific nuclear energy community merits serious study by governments, industry and civil society, according to a high-level regional group of more than thirty distinguished former senior government officials and scientific experts – the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN). The group today released a discussion paper to encourage consideration of the proposal.
The Asia Pacific region is a major growth area for nuclear energy, and countries in it are increasingly seeking assurance that nuclear programs meet the highest standards of nuclear safety, security and safeguards against weapons proliferation. The 2011 Fukushima accident highlighted the need for stronger international transparency, accountability and cooperation. Civil nuclear programs cannot be regarded as a solely national concern.
An Asia Pacific nuclear energy community could facilitate high-level consultation on nuclear plans and programs; regional cooperation and promotion of best practice in nuclear safety, security and safeguards (the “3 Ss”); and collaborative arrangements for energy security and fuel cycle management. It could also ensure transparency and build confidence in nuclear programs in the region, helping to provide assurance that they are meeting best practice in nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation.
While a number of specialised nuclear institutions exist now in the region, an Asia Pacific nuclear energy community would be higher level in its process, involving government leaders, and more embracing in its subject matter, addressing security of supply, fuel cycle management, and safety and security assurances. A nuclear energy community would complement other steps being taken towards greater regional integration, and could become an important building block in this process.
APLN encourages governments, as well as academic institutions and think tanks, to think critically about how an Asia Pacific nuclear energy community could work to the mutual benefit of the countries in the region. It is hoped that governments will consider initiating discussion of the nuclear energy community concept in forums such as the East Asia Summit, APEC Energy Ministers Meetings and ASEAN ministerial meetings.