08 January 2016
At least four Southeast Asian states appear to be planning to build nuclear power plants (NPP) at a time of unusual global market conditions for radioactive material. Of particular interest is the fact that the potential political utility of nuclear weapons, the ultimate by-product of radioactive material, is practically irrelevant as a means for a state to generate force or coercive diplomacy in the 21st Century.
At least four nations in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam – appear to be planning to build nuclear power plants (NPP). Moreover, Indonesia may become a source of uranium ore and perhaps yellowcake (Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Material, “NORM”). Each nation entering the radioactive material product life cycle must prepare, plan and invest in the infrastructure required to transport, store and dispose of both NORM as well as NORM that is technically-enhanced (“TENORM”) into highly-enriched or fissile material. Each nation must also create policies and implement counter-measures to prevent both NORM and TENORM from causing environmental damage or falling into the hands of non-state actors.
Both NORM and TENORM are variants of hazardous material, defined in Singapore for example as “generally those [materials] that have mass-disaster potential, are highly toxic and pollutive, and/or generate toxic wastes that can only be disposed of with greater difficulty”. Potential political utility varies according to the segment of the radioactive material product life cycle each nation intends to enter.
… Paul M. Cole was recently a Visiting Research Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he undertook research concerning the potential political utility of radioactive materials in Southeast Asia.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 13/01/2016