The growth of global nuclear energy is and will continue to be centered in Asia over the next decade. Of the 68 reactors under construction at the end of 2015, 45 were in Asia. While thirty countries currently use nuclear power, about the equivalent number of newcomer states are actively working to include it in their energy mix. The use of radioactive isotopes in medicine and industry also continues to grow. All this means increasing transportation of nuclear and radioactive materials in the region.
An area that would benefit from a cooperative approach is in the field of nuclear safety. This takes several forms. ASEAN states should continue to harness the various Asia-Pacific networks as well as IAEA support in training and sharing of best practices amongst its nuclear operators and regulators. Beyond this, a more tailored regional approach to Southeast Asia will benefit countries that plan to embark on nuclear power for the first time. Such an approach would entail building up regional assistance to respond to nuclear emergencies and support governments’ efforts in their role to protect its citizen’s health and safety.
About the Speaker:
Olli Heinonen is a Senior Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a Senior Advisor on Science and Nonproliferation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. His research and teachings include: nuclear safety, security, non-proliferation and disarmament, verification of treaty compliance, enhancement of the verification work of international organizations, and transfer and control of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Before joining the Belfer Center in September 2010 as a Senior Fellow until 2016, Olli Heinonen served 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Heinonen was the Deputy Director General of the IAEA, and head of its Department of Safeguards. Prior to that, he was Director at the Agency’s various Operational Divisions, and as inspector including at the IAEA’s overseas office in Tokyo, Japan.
Prior to joining IAEA, he was a Senior Research Officer at the Technical Research Centre of Finland Reactor Laboratory in charge of research and development related to nuclear waste solidification and disposal.
Olli Heinonen studied radiochemistry and completed his PhD dissertation in nuclear material analysis at the University of Helsinki.