The use and application of nuclear technology in our region have been on the increase in various areas. Most evidently, several ASEAN Member States have planned a nuclear power plant programme to meet their increasing demand for energy. While promoting the use of nuclear energy, it has to be noted that impacts of any nuclear incident are trans-boundary, as clearly reflected by the recent nuclear emergency in Japan. Therefore, cooperation on nuclear issues among countries in the region is essential.
The establishment of a network amongst nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities in ASEAN Member States will correspond to need to promote safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the region. This network could be called ASEANTOM (ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy).
The ASEANTOM will be an informal network that serves as a venue for sharing of best practices, exchange of views and information as well as discussion on safety, security, and safeguards in the use of nuclear energy amongst nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities. Activities within this network will focus on the issues of mutual interest which may include:
· Enhancing regulatory capacity through training courses and technical collaboration;
· Sharing of best practices and exchange of experiences in regulating nuclear activities with regard to safety, security and safeguards;
· Exchange of information on nuclear activities in each country to promote transparency and build confidence in safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear energy within the region;
· Forging cooperation in nuclear emergency preparedness and response, as well as radiation monitoring in the region.
This network will be non-binding in nature and, by no means, aimed at setting new standards or regulations within the region, as ASEAN will continue to uphold the IAEA standards and guidelines, upon which the national implementation of safety, security and safeguards measures will continue to be based. Moreover, the work of the ASEANTOM will not create any duplication with the existing frameworks within the region, but instead, will complement them.