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Experts Meet to Discuss the Nuclear Future in Southeast Asia

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Sponsors International Conference to Examine Security, Safety, and Nonproliferation Issues

11/17/2010

Press Release

SINGAPORE – Government and industry officials and policy experts from more than a dozen countries gathered here November 3-5 to discuss the political, technical, and nonproliferation considerations related to the global expansion of nuclear energy. The meeting was organized by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as part of its project on the Global Nuclear Future. The National University of Singapore (NUS) was the in-country host.

The nearly 50 distinguished academics, researchers, diplomats, and senior administrators from around the world discussed key issues surrounding the potential emergence of nuclear power as a major energy source for the region.

There are 439 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries today with another 45 under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the number of nations with civilian nuclear programs is expected to grow dramatically. South Korea is a significant and expanding consumer of nuclear energy and an emerging nuclear power plant supplier; Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines have expressed interest in nuclear power; and Singapore announced this year that it is looking into the issue.

“The goal of the forum, and of the larger American Academy initiative on the Global Nuclear Future, is to identify, refine, and promote measures that will limit the safety, security, and proliferation risks associated with the anticipated global ‘nuclear renaissance,’” said American Academy President Leslie Berlowitz.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan hosted a dinner reception to open the conference, which included an address by U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman on U.S. nuclear energy policy.

Participants in the meeting engaged in frank discussion about a number of complex issues, including:
  • Operational safety of new nuclear facilities;
  • Protecting reactors from terrorist attacks, sabotage, and other security breaches;
  • Developing the human technical resources necessary to support new nuclear programs;
  • Ensuring the transparency of civilian nuclear power programs;
  • Economic viability of national nuclear construction initiatives;
  • Ways to strengthen the international nonproliferation regime;
  • The safe long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, including opportunities for regional cooperation on waste repositories.


“We cannot assume that as nuclear energy spreads to more countries, a desirable nuclear order will arise spontaneously or automatically,” said Steven Miller of Harvard University, co-organizer of the conference and co-leader of the Academy’s larger initiative. “Close cooperation and coordination will be needed among current and new nuclear nations.”

In addition to Miller, the project on the Global Nuclear Future is co-directed by Scott Sagan of Stanford University, in collaboration with Robert Rosner of the University of Chicago and Stephen Goldberg of Argonne National Laboratory.

Conference participants included individuals with a diverse range of expertise and experience in nuclear program development, regulation, and nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. They included ambassadors and other senior officials from the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, IAEA, and various national governments. Delegates included representatives from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with others from Egypt, India, and the United States.

Last year, the Academy sponsored a regional meeting in Abu Dhabi at which these issues were examined from that region’s perspective. The Academy’s project on the Global Nuclear Future also includes expert study groups to explore practical approaches for improving the physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials; engagement with nuclear plant builders and operators; efforts to develop policies and proposals for new cooperative arrangements to manage the fuel cycle; and explorations of ways to advance constructive dialog among the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty member states.

This work also includes a two-volume issue of the Academy’s journal Dædalus on nuclear energy and nonproliferation; published in November 2009 and January 2010 (https://www.amacad.org/content/publications/publication.aspx?d=791).

“NUS is pleased to partner with the American Academy in co-hosting this important regional conference,” said Professor Barry Halliwell, NUS Deputy President for Research and Technology. “The meeting is timely, in light of the Singapore Government’s recent announcement that the issue is being examined. There is indeed a pressing need for energy alternatives of several types, and teams of NUS researchers from the faculties of Science and Engineering are working actively to provide such alternatives.”

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (www.amacad.org)

A leading global university centered in Asia, the National University of Singapore is Singapore’s flagship university which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. NUS has 14 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 30,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS has three Research Centers of Excellence and 22 university-level research institutes and centers. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centers. NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community. (http://www.nus.edu.sg).

 

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