Non-Aligned Movement has emphasised on the need for nuclear safeguards. NAM is firmly of the opinion that States with nuclear power programs have a central role in their own countries in ensuring the application of the highest standards of nuclear safety and the responsibility for providing a timely, transparent and adequate response to nuclear accidents in order to minimize their consequence. strengthen cooperation on nuclear safety, security and safeguards.
Several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States have planned/initiated their nuclear power programmes to meet their increasing demands for energy and hence the need for felt for a mechanism that would promote cooperation on nuclear issues among countries in the region.
Recognising the importance of nuclear safety, security and safeguards within the region, as well as the crucial role of nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities in enhancing cooperation in these issues, ASEAN leaders, during the 20th ASEAN Summit in 2012, welcomed the idea to develop a network amongst nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities 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 safety, security and safeguards. Such a network would be called the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM).
The objective of ASEANTOM is to enhance regulatory activities and 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.
NAM recognises that the sole intergovernmental organization within the UN system with the mandate and expertise to deal with the technical subjects of nuclear safety and nuclear security is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In line with this, the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025 adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2015 states that ASEAN would develop a coordinated approach to improve nuclear safety, in cooperation with the IAEA and other relevant partners.
Thus, ASEANTOM aims to formalise relations between ASEAN and the IAEA, promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in compliance with the IAEA safety, security, and safeguards standards, explore joint research and development projects in civilian nuclear technology, with international organisations, such as the IAEA, through workshops, seminars, and exchange of experts, encourage accession to the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident; an develop partnerships with nuclear regulatory bodies of other regions and relevant international organisations in order to contribute to nuclear non-proliferation, maintaining international standards of nuclear safety and security, preventing nuclear-related accidents, and protecting against nuclear terrorism.
To pursue these objectives, ASEANTOM has devised a number of strategies. The ASEANTOM-IAEA Regional Project, a 4-year regional project (2016-2019) aimed to develop and implement emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements both at the national and regional levels to protect the people and the environment in case of a severe nuclear and radiological incident.
In 2018, Singapore hosted the 5th Meeting of ASEANTOM during 26 – 28 June 2018 to finalise the issues from the previous meeting, as well as to review the draft Practical Arrangements between IAEA and ASEAN on Cooperation in the Areas of Nuclear Science and Technology and Applications, Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards.
The ASEANTOM Work Plan 2018–2022 was adopted by the 5th ASEANTOM Annual Meeting held in Singapore from 26 to 28 June 2018. The ASEANTOM Work Plan 2018–2022 details the action programmes, key objectives, milestones, and deliverables for the 5-year period from 2018 to 2022, to work towards achieving ASEANTOM’s objective of applying peaceful uses of nuclear energy in compliance with the IAEA safety, security, and safeguards standards, as laid out in its Terms of Reference, as well as the relevant targets set out in the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025.