SemText #4: Nuclear power and regional cooperation in ASEAN

This post is a collection of notes and thoughts on a roundtable on nuclear power and safety in ASEAN held as part of Singapore International Energy Week 2016.

Nuclear power. The first thing that came to mind was images of that iconic mushroom cloud and the prospect of living in a Mad Max world. But then I remembered we’re in Southeast Asia, which has been declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone since 1995. Although ASEAN has declared itself to be free from nukes, the charm of harnessing atomic energy for civilian purposes is too hard to resist. I honestly did not know that Vietnam is planning to have up to 10 reactors in 15-30 years, and that the Philippines has the first nuclear power plant in Southeast Asia, but was never fuelled.

Despite knowing the destructive power of nuclear energy, I am also a firm believer that nuclear power is the way to power the future. As Asimov has shown in Foundation and Gipsy Danger in Pacific Rim, nuclear power is indeed the source of energy that people need to thrust themselves into the future.

The roundtable featured a variety of experts on nuclear power, such as Dr Olli Heinonen, Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki, Shah Nawaz Ahmad, Sabar Mohd Hashim, Siriratana Biramontri, and Dr Hoang Sy Than, who talked about the need to establish robust institutions to promote regional cooperation and information-sharing as a way to harness nuclear power in ASEAN.

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Le’ Notes #11: Nuclear Strategy

This post discusses the many sides of nuclear strategy.

Ah, the nuclear weapon. That mushroom cloud sure is iconic. We make jokes of nuking China or Russia and morbidly say that “two nukes aren’t enough” (sorry Japan). Even in the world of strategic thought, nuclear strategy has been debated to death; examined from every angle: economics, military, political, etc. Yet the interesting part of it is that, aside from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world has yet to see another nuclear explosion. We may count North Korea’s fifth nuclear test. As such, nuclear strategy remains hypothetical and deductive. We lack the empirical data (fortunately) and information to create sound theories. Most of nuclear strategy is pure speculation; terms such as Mutually Assured Destruction, limited exchange, and second-strike… they’re all hypothetical.

In this day and age, we might say nuclear strategy is dead. That’s almost true, since the world has yet to see another Bernard Brodie or Herman Kahn. But it’s also not so true. You see, the foundations of any future nuclear strategy (hopefully we won’t have to come to that) would rest on the previous groundwork which previous nuclear strategists have already constructed. So, let me present the thoughts of the main nuclear strategists to get a grasp on what nuclear strategy is.

On a side note, you can learn equally as much from science-fiction, pop culture, and games such as Fallout. 

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