The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) at RSIS, representing the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP)(Singapore) and Pacific Forum (US CSCAP), co-organised the virtual meeting of the CSCAP Nuclear Energy Experts Group from 10 to 11 November 2020.
Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of NTS Centre, co-chaired the meeting while Mr Julius Cesar Trajano, Research Fellow, delivered a presentation on the role of nuclear technology in detecting infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Around 45 nuclear experts from Asia-Pacific countries discussed the role of nuclear energy in Asia’s energy mix, peaceful use of nuclear technology in the region, role of key nuclear treaties, importance of strategic trade control, and contributions of nuclear cooperation frameworks.
The participants noted that China was the leading country in Asia in terms of number of new reactors being built and planned in recent years. This was primarily driven by its desire to meet growing energy demands and commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2060. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines was making significant progress in addressing key recommendations on nuclear energy from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The meeting also highlighted the widespread application of nuclear technology in industries like health, food and agriculture, and in climate change mitigation in Southeast Asia. As such, the management and control of radiological materials were important security issues in the Asia Pacific. In conclusion, participants emphasised the need for adequate regulatory oversight on the use and handling of radioactive materials and stronger enforcement of strategic trade control laws to mitigate the risk of radiological materials being diverted to unauthorised operations by malicious actors.