Promoting Nuclear Safety Cooperation in Northeast Asia


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When: Aug 25 2015 - 12:00pm until Aug 25 2015 - 1:30pm
Where: 1819 L St NW, Sixth Floor Conference Room, Washington DC, 20036

Promoting Nuclear Safety Cooperation in Northeast Asia

An Asia Pacific Security Seminar featuring:

Dr. James E. Platte
Visiting Fellow, East West Center in Washington

Promoting Nuclear Safety Cooperation in Northeast Asia from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Dr. James Platte discusses the future of nuclear safety cooperation in Northeast Asia.

 Dr. James Platte touched off his discussion with an overview of the current status of nuclear power operations in Northeast Asia. Currently, over half of global construction in this sector is taking place in Northeast Asia and in China in particular. While Japan has been the historical leader in building nuclear reactors, having roughly 30% of its power supplied by nuclear energy before the Fukushima accident, public outcry over safety concerns has effectively scuttled plans to build new reactors and turn exisiting ones back on despite moves by the Abe administration to get power plants back online. It is the goal of the administration to have 29 reactors provide 20-22% of Japan's energy needs again by 2030. 

South Korea as well receives roughly 30% of its energy needs from nuclear power, though safety concerns arising from forged part inspection certificates in reactors have highlighted the potential problems of this dependence there as well. China, which has 6 times as many reactors under construction and 5 times as many planned as its neighbors, only receives 2% of its energy needs from nuclear power due to the vastness of its energy market and issues that have arisen from connecting its reactors to the electricity grid. 

With rapid construction continuing and the Fukushima disaster still fresh in everyone's minds, South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed the creation of the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI). NAPCI envisions addressing “soft” issues, including nuclear safety, in order to build deeper regional cooperation on “hard” security issues, similar to the integration process in Europe, and Park has specifically cited the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as a model for Northeast Asia.

However, Dr. Platte stated that upon closer inspection EURATOM would likely not work as a model for Asia. EURATOM's uniqueness is solely tied to the history of Europe in the 1950s and given Europe's own changing dynamics over the decades it too could likely use an update. Existing bodies in Asia that deal with nuclear safety have largely been viewed as "talk shops" and often overlap in function. Furthermore, Asia is not yest at the stage where it could try over a regionalization similar to Europe, even among the three Northeast Asian countries. So rather than trying to emulate EURATOM, Dr. Platte suggested that China, Japan, and South Korea focus on emergency management as the central issue from which to build greater partnership on nuclear safety given that for all three mitigating effects of an accident like Fukushima in one country on other countries remains their top concern.  

 For more images, please visit the album for this event on the East-West Center's Flickr page. 

Dr. James E. Platte is a non-resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow with Pacific Forum CSIS and an international relations scholar specializing in energy security, nuclear proliferation, and East Asian politics. He received his PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. His dissertation was a comparative study of nuclear fuel cycle decision making in India, Japan, and South Korea, for which he conducted research in all three countries. He also studied Japanese nuclear policy as a 2012 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan. He was a 2011 Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and he has worked on nuclear proliferation issues with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy. He holds an MA in Science, Technology and Public Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs and an MS and BS in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Sarah Wang
Phone: 202-327-9755