ASEANTOM Terms and Reference
In the process of establishing the ASEAN Community by 2015 and subsequent closer integration within ASEAN, the physical and institutional connectivity between Member States will present both new opportunities and challenges on nuclear related issues. In this connection, cooperation on relevant nuclear issues amongst countries in the region is therefore desirable in order to promote confidence and trust, as well as to provide a security net and safeguards on possible adverse consequences of free movement of people and goods, which will in turn strengthen our ASEAN community building. Cooperation to help enforcement of relevant national nuclear security laws and regulations, amongst other things, should also be strengthened to meet these challenges.
Moreover, in view of growing energy needs, some Southeast Asian countries are exploring peaceful nuclear technology and energy as an alternative to their respective energy mix. At the same time, the impact of nuclear and radiation accidents are transboundary in nature. Cooperation of the regional countries, therefore, becomes necessary to ensure safety of the nations through information exchange, and emergency preparedness and response. As stated in the Chairman’s Statement of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, “ASEAN should engage as appropriate in information sharing and promote transparency on relevant nuclear related issues in the region.”
ASEAN Member States (AMS) also have obligation on the safeguards aspect of nuclear issues according to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapon (NPT) and the South East Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, under which the control system is in place to uphold the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system and exchange of information on events that may affect the implementation of the Treaty. Regular dialogues amongst relevant technical nuclear authorities of AMS could support and contribute to such mechanism by peer monitoring and therefore identifying any flashpoints and early warning.
Recognising the importance of nuclear safety, security and safeguards within the region, as well as the crucial role of nuclear regulatory bodies in enhancing cooperation these issues, ASEAN Leaders, during the 20th ASEAN Summit in 2012, welcomed the idea to develop a network amongst nuclear regulatory bodies in the region 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 objective of ASEANTOM is to enhance regulatory activities and further strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards within the ASEAN Community, by enhancing cooperation and complementing the work of existing mechanisms at the national, bilateral, regional and international levels. ASEANTOM, herein after called the Network, is intended to serve as a framework for cooperation amongst nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities within ASEAN in order to enhance regional nuclear safety, security and safeguards, based on implementation of relevant commitments to the IAEA’s standards and guidelines and other relevant multilateral agreements or guidelines.
ASEANTOM will also support and contribute to the purpose of ASEAN in preserving Southeast Asia as a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. In this regard, the network is in line with the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint on the implementation of SEANWFZ Treaty and its Plan of Action, as well as the cooperation in addressing non-traditional security issues.
Scope of Network:
ASEANTOM will focus on cooperation of regulatory bodies and relevant authorities amongst the ASEAN Member States, on a consensual basis, on the following:
o Sharing of best practices and exchange of experiences in regulating nuclear and radioactive materials and related activities, with regard to safety, security and safeguards;
o Capacity building by focusing on human resources development through training courses and technical collaboration;
o Assisting ASEAN Member States to implement their relevant commitments to the IAEA standards and guidelines;
o Mutual exchange of information as confidence building measures on nuclear activities in each country to promote transparency in safe, secure, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the region;
o Forging regional cooperation in the areas of, but not limited to, nuclear emergency preparedness and response, environmental radiation monitoring, and nuclear security, including, nuclear forensics, and measures to combat illicit trafficking, unauthorised transfer of nuclear and radioactive materials, and the return of recovered materials to the country of origin.
To fulfill the objectives of ASEANTOM, it may undertake the following cooperative activities. (Examples of suggested activities are listed in attachment.)
o Organisation of meetings, conferences, seminars, and workshops;
o Organisation of trainings, or on-the-job trainings to enhance personnel competency;
o Assisting Member States in expert missions or scientific visits to increase capacity of the regulatory bodies;
o Sharing / exchange of information on nuclear regulatory activities as well as environmental radiation monitoring and nuclear forensics.
o ASEANTOM may draw on expertise and resources from ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners, other external parties, regional and international organisations, as well as other relevant bodies and networks.
Composition and Frequency of Meetings
ASEANTOM comprises nuclear regulatory bodies or their equivalents of ASEAN Member States.
The ASEAN Secretariat will participate and provide support to the Network as necessary.
Other relevant international organisations such as the IAEA, as well as ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners or relevant bodies, may participate as an observer at the meeting, upon consent of the Member States.
ASEANTOM is encouraged to meet at least once annually.
The working methods of the Network will be developed by the Network.
The Chair of ASEAN will serve as the coordinator of the Network unless decided otherwise by ASEAN Member States.
ASEANTOM will be a Sectoral Body under the APSC Council and related to the SEANWFZ Commission.
The network is encouraged to submit regular technical reports to the SEANWFZ Commission as deem appropriate.
Budget and Funding
Expenses related to the organisation of and participation in activities of ASEANTOM shall be borne by Member States, or if applicable, additional resources may be drawn from voluntary contributions from them.
Conformity with Laws and Regulations
Discussion or exchange of information shall be effected through and in conformity with the laws and regulations, including international obligations, of the respective Member States.
Confidentiality and National Security
Any Member State is not obliged to participate in any discussion or exchange information which the Member State considers to be confidential.
This Terms of Reference (TOR) may be reviewed so as to remain up to date and be cognizant with the evolving needs of ASEAN Member States, upon consensus of the Member States.
Arranged by Dr. Pantip Ampornrat, OAP, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org