Mr. John Tilemann, Director of Research in the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, gave a talk at the Mabini Dialogue held on 23 November 2017 at the Benedicto Room, Carlos P. Romulo Library. His presentation, Getting Nuclear Power? The International Context, explored the various considerations if a country ever decides to go down the nuclear power route.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons enshrines the rights to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Nonetheless, Mr. Tilemann argued that the decision to adopt nuclear power is a huge step for a country to take. Any country that decides to embark on nuclear development projects is being brave. Going down the nuclear path entails a lot of responsibilities, and features a range of implications for a country’s international relations.
The decision to embark on nuclear energy programs is be taken into isolation. Neighboring states will be concerned about safety and security impacts; foreign vendors/ supplies will impose rules and arrangements with implications for generations; and there would be a complex set of international rules and standards to be adhered to. Exploring alternative energy resources, particularly nuclear energy, should not be purely an economic decision, but rather one that takes into consideration the national interest as a whole.
Mr. Tilemann went to the specifics and discussed the types of reactors used in most nuclear power plants; models for keeping the fuel cycle safe; best practices for siting, nuclear safety and security. He emphasized that the key elements of best practice in nuclear energy include engagement in all relevant international legal and normative frameworks, close engagement with the IAEA, foregoing sensitive elements of the fuel cycle especially enrichment and reprocessing, and ongoing engagement with neighbors. A checklist of relevant was also provided for guidance on the country’s decision.