The 1st Meeting of ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) was organized in Phuket, Thailand on 3 – 4 September, 2013. The meeting was held on annually basis following the Meeting to Finalize the Term of Reference (TOR) in Bangkok, Thailand on 29 August, 2012.
Objective of the meeting is to review and finalize TOR, and to set up the action plan of ASEANTOM. The action plan is an expected outcome of the meeting.
The Meeting consisted of 41 participants from IAEA and ASEAN Member States (AMS), namely, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Only Brunei Darussalam could not attend the Meeting. Participant’s organizations were regulatory body or relevant authorities, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Lecture summary and outcomes of the Meeting are described as followed;
Opening Remarks (Dr. Atchara Wongsaengchan, Deputy Permanent-Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology of Thailand)
Dr. Atchara welcomed participants to the first meeting of ASEANTOM. She emphasized the importance of regional cooperation and network on nuclear regulatory bodies among the member states, especially on the occasion of becoming the ASEAN Community in 2015. The network is necessary for Member States because of the increase of nuclear and radiation utilizations in ASEAN, and the trans-boundary impacts of any nuclear incident. She also stated that in 2011 on occasion of the 50th anniversary of Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP), Thailand initiated the establishment of ASEANTOM. Later, the network has been progressed and has received warm welcome from Member States including at the political level. Lastly, she stated that the purpose of the meeting is to facilitate an exchange of information in the area of cooperation on nuclear safety, security and safeguards amongst the network and set up the work plan of the activities. She conveyed her gratitude for all of ASEAN countries for sharing their cooperation to establish the sustainability of the network which will strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards in the region.
IAEA Nuclear Security Program (Ms. Noor Firtiah Bakri, Office of Nuclear Security, IAEA)
Ms. Noor provided information about nuclear security program of IAEA and cooperation between IAEA and countries in ASEAN. She stated that the cooperation has been done through bilateral agreement between IAEA and some of ASEAN countries. In ASEAN, the potential target includes research reactor and fuel fabrication plants. The nuclear security issues included; unauthorized possession and related criminal activities, theft and losses, other unauthorized activities and events. IAEA provides services and instruments for nuclear security, i.e., Peer review on security and advisory services (INSServ), International physical protection advisory service, Integrated nuclear security support plan (INSSP). Since 2004, there are 4 ASEAN countries undertook INSServ.
For ASEANTOM, IAEA offered several possible areas for further development at both national level and facility level. For example, awareness program for national stakeholders, training programs, field exercise, and nuclear security training provision for lawyers. Ms. Noor suggested that ASEAN and IAEA should prepare bilateral discussion and request for cooperation between ASEAN and IAEA. Recommended activities are capacity building, national coordination, establishing regional capacities and capabilities and managing of radioactive materials out of regulatory control. In conclusion, IAEA to support any regional activities from requested by the ASEAN Member States and the ASEANTOM network.
Progress of ASEANTOM (Ms. Siriratana Biramontri, Director, Bureau of Technical Support of Safety Regulation, OAP)
Ms. Siriratana presented progress of ASEANTOM establishment. The presentation covered background and motivation of ASEANTOM, progress of network establishment in political level, and overview of TOR. The idea of establishing ASEANTOM raised from the process of establishing the ASEAN Community by 2015, and was first proposed during the International conference on safety, security and safeguards in nuclear energy in September, 2011 in Bangkok. Later in March 2012, the concept paper for ASEANTOM was distributed in Senior Official Meeting (SOM). ASEAN Leaders, during the 20th ASEAN Summit in 2012, stated that “We welcomed the idea to develop a network amongst nuclear regulatory bodies in Southeast Asia which would enable regulators to exchange nuclear related information and experiences on best practices, enhance cooperation and develop capacities on all three aspects, namely, nuclear security, safety and safeguards”. Such a network could be called the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM). The proposal received support from the political level as it became a part of leader’s statement in 2012 Soule Security Summit, and the 56th and 57th IAEA General Conference in Vienna. The TOR was first drafted in August 2012, and will be reviewed once again in this meeting.
Revision and Adoption of Term of Reference (TOR)
TOR of ASEANTOM was reviewed and edited in this meeting in order to achieve consensus by the MS. The issues in TOR discussed in the meeting is summarized below. The TOR was revised and accepted among the MS.
• Adoption of TOR: MS agreed that the TOR should be adopted through high level official or diplomat meeting such as the ASEAN Senior Official Meeting (SOM) or Ministerial meeting. One of the reasons is that the network is also promoting security, which is a part of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC).
• Issues relating to SEANWFZ: MS agreed that ASEANTOM can contribute to SEANWFZ (the implementation) since SEANWFZ mentions ASEANTOM in its plan of action. However, supporting SEANWFZ should not be a main role of ASEANTOM (on the other hand, ASEANTOM is not SEANWFZ). Therefore parts of TOR content involving SEANWFZ were modified, i.e., parts of background, institutional mechanism and reporting mechanism.
• Scope: MS discussed on Scope and Activity and suggested to revise some parts. The last bullet of scope was moved to activity.
• Activity: MS suggested to add another activity on “Identifying other activities that meet AMS requirements and needs in the areas of safety, security and safeguards”.
• Reporting mechanism: MS agreed that reporting mechanism should be modified from report to the SEANWFZ. Instead, the MS proposed that the ASEANTOM should submit an annual activity report to the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) (under APSC pillar). One of reasons is that reporting to the leaders is to be recognized from the government to get funding and support under the APSC. The revision is reflected in TOR.
• Institutional mechanism: To be consistent with reporting mechanism, the institutional mechanism is revised to be a network under the APSC. The revision is reflected in TOR.
• Revision of terms/wording:
o Term “regulatory bodies and relevant authorities” to be used consistency throughout TOR.
o Term “ASEAN Member States (AMS)” to be used consistency throughout TOR.
o In objective, modified “non-traditional security issues” to “nuclear security issues”
o Other minor wording, typo, and grammatical changes as reflected in the TOR.
An action plan of ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) was developed during the 1st Meeting of ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM), 2-5 September 2013, Phuket, Thailand. Participants of the meeting consisted of delegates from nine out of the ten ASEAN Member States (AMS). One AMS who did not participate in the meeting was Brunei Darussalam.
During the meeting, 22 fields of activity within 5 scope of the ASEANTOM were proposed by the AMS. Corresponding activities for each field were proposed and the host country which to organize each activity was designated on a voluntary basis. Due to the limited amount of
time for the preparation of the activities, six activities have been selected as priority. Four are selected to be conducted in 2014 including, Nuclear regulation establishment and national regulatory and legal frameworks in ASEAN; current and future, Radiation environmental monitoring and transport models, Experience sharing from EURATOM, and Radiation detection techniques and maintenance of instruments. Two activities are selected to be organized in year 2015 including, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Nuclear and radioactive materials transport safety and security.