The uses and applications of nuclear technology in the ASEAN region have been on the rise. Most evidently, several ASEAN Member States (AMS) have planned/initiated their nuclear power programmes to meet their increasing demands for energy.? While promoting nuclear energy, it must be noted that effects of a nuclear accident can be transboundary ? as demonstrated by the Fukushima accident in 2011. Therefore, cooperation on nuclear issues among countries in the region is essential.
The establishment of a network of nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities of AMS corresponds with the need to promote safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the region. On the occasion ofthe50th?anniversary of Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) in 2011, OAP hosted the International Conference on Safety, Security and Safeguards in Nuclear Energy?in Bangkok, Thailand. From the conference, OAP learned that all Southeast Asian countries share a common goal in achieving high levels of public safety and confidence in nuclear- and radiation-related issues. The idea of establishing this network was also proposed in an informal consultation and received positive feedback from ASEAN colleagues.
Recognising the importance of nuclear safety, security and safeguards within the region, as well as the crucial role of nuclear regulatory bodies or the relevant authorities in enhancing cooperation in these issues, ASEAN Leaders welcomed the idea to develop a network of nuclear regulatory bodies or relevant authorities in the region at the 20th ASEAN Summit in 2012. The Network, named the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM), 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.
OAP hosted a?Meeting to establish the Terms of Reference (TOR) of ASEANTOM on 30 August 2012. This meeting brought together the regulatory bodies of AMS to work together to finalise the TOR of ASEANTOM.
In 2013, Thailand hosted the?1st?ASEANTOM Meeting from 3 ? 4 September 2013?to facilitate information exchange and cooperation in the areas of?nuclear safety, security and safeguards?amongst AMS, and to set up awork plan.??The Action Plan of ASEANTOM was the outcome of the meeting.
In 2014, Thailand hosted the?2nd?ASEANTOM Meeting in Chiang Mai province from 25 ? 27 August 2014.?The Meeting reviewed activities conducted during the past year and discussed further activities under the ASEANTOM Work Plan for 2015 ? 2016. These activities included a number of regional workshops and training courses on emergency preparedness and response as well as on nuclear security culture and management. The Meeting also agreed to seek designation ofASEANTOM as an ASEAN body under the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Pillar in Annex I of the ASEAN Charter.
On 5 August 2015, Malaysia, as ASEANTOM Chair, conveyed ASEANTOMs decision to be an ASEAN body under the APSC Pillar in Annex I of the ASEAN Charter to the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM). On 20 August 2015, Malaysia hosted the 3rd ASEANTOM Meeting to review activities conducted in the past and discuss further activities under the ASEANTOM Work Plan for 2016 ? 2017. This included the implementation of the four-year International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-ASEANTOM regional cooperation project beginning in 2016, to support the development of a regional environmental radioactivity database and a nuclear emergency preparedness and response framework in Southeast Asia ? later known as RAS9077.
On 23 December 2015, ASEANTOM was designated as a sectoral body under the ASEAN Political-Security Community as stated in the Annex I of the ASEAN Charter. The ASEANTOM reports to the ASEAN SOM. With the official designation, ASEANTOM was tasked to provide the official framework to facilitate cooperation among the nuclear regulatory bodies of AMS to promote nuclear safety, security and safeguards in the region. ASEANTOM was also appointed the point of contact with the IAEA to promote greater cooperation on issues related to nuclear safety, security and safeguards, including capacity building to benefit all AMS.
In 2017, the Philippines hosted the 4th ASEANTOM Meeting from7 ? 8 December 2017. The Meeting initiated the ideas and discussion on establishing an official ASEANTOM website, formation of an ASEANTOM secretariat, a 5-Year ASEANTOM Work Plan and regional project proposals.
In 2018, Singapore hosted the 5th ASEANTOM Meeting from26 ? 28 June 2018. The Meeting adopted the 5-Year ASEANTOM Work Plan and the draft Practical Arrangements between the IAEA and ASEAN on Cooperation in the Areas of Nuclear Science and Technology and Applications, Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards. The Meeting also discussed the proposal to create a set of Administrative Guidelines for ASEANTOM, a work programme to implement technical areas under the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Plan of Action (2018 ? 2022), and the proposal to organise an ASEANTOM exhibition at the sidelines of the 62nd IAEA General Conference in Vienna.