American Academy of Arts and Sciences Sponsors International Conference to Prepare for “A More Nuclear World”
HANOI, Vietnam – Government officials and policy experts from more than a dozen countries gathered here November 14-17 for an off-the-record meeting to discuss the political, technical, and nonproliferation considerations related to the global expansion of nuclear energy. The three-day meeting on Emerging Nuclear Power in a Regional Context: Southeast Asia was organized by the American Academy of Arts and Science as part of its project on the Global Nuclear Future, in collaboration with the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency.
There are 441 nuclear power reactors operating in 31 countries today with another 60 under construction and the number of nuclear facilities and nations with civilian nuclear programs is expected to grow dramatically, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. More than a dozen nations in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, are exploring the possibility of developing nuclear energy programs.
The goal of the American Academy forum, and of the larger 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 growth of nuclear power.
Participants in the Hanoi meeting engaged in frank discussion about a number of complex issues, including:
- Creating a culture of safety in the operation of nuclear facilities;
- Ensuring the transparency of civilian nuclear power programs;
- Lessons learned from the Fukushima accident;
- Prospects and challenges for managing the nuclear fuel cycle, including regional and international storage and disposal of spent fuel;
- Ways to strengthen the international nonproliferation regime.
Le Dinh Tien, Vice Minister of Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology, told conference participants that Vietnam hopes to have nuclear power generation online by 2020. He said that the Academy-sponsored meeting will help provide “common ground for the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
United States Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear also addressed the group. Shear noted that nearly all of the nations in the Southeast Asia region are considering nuclear power. “No one nation can ensure the safe and secure development of nuclear energy,” he said. “That’s why conferences like this are so important.”
Conference participants included individuals with a diverse range of expertise and experience in nuclear program development, regulation, and nonproliferation efforts. The Academy sponsored similar regional conferences in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and in Singapore in 2010.
Participants in the Hanoi meeting included former ambassadors and other senior officials, as well as scholars and technical experts, from Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.
The Academy’s project on the Global Nuclear Future includes expert study groups to explore practical approaches for improving the physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials; to improve the prospects for safer nuclear facilities that would be acceptable to the major nuclear plant suppliers, operators, and the public; to promote a more secure nuclear fuel cycle framework that would include pragmatic, regional nuclear fuel arrangements; and to explore ways to advance constructive dialog among the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty member states.
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Science is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. 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)