event BI

Asan Nuclear Forum

Energy Security or Nuclear Security

Session: Regency Room
Date/Time: February 19, 2013 / 10:30-11:45

Moderator: Scott Sagan Stanford University


Gareth Evans The Australian National University
Alfredo Labbe Mission of Chile to the UN, Vienna
Park Goon Cherl KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School


Duyeon Kim, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation
Jenny Town, U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS

Session Sketch

Park Goon Cherl, president of the KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School, opened the third plenary session by directly linking energy security to national security against the backdrop of a rapidly changing security environment in the knowledge and information-based society, as well as China’s rapid rise and the world’s resource diplomacy. Dr. Park contended that the connection between national security and energy security is “the continuation of nuclear power generation and just the matter the nuclear security.” He went on to explain Korea’s energy situation. In response to a question about the proliferation implications of South Korea’s quest for pyroprocessing, Dr. Park stressed, “all Korean activity is under the watch of the US and IAEA, which is why Korea wants to be a leading country in nuclear safety and security. Even if we do pyroprocessing, we don’t do it alone, we do it based on the research done with the US.”

Gareth Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister and chancellor of the Australian National University, noted that the tension between energy security and national security will remain for a very long time, and that despite the impact of Fukushima, many states will not be confident they will be able to generate enough electricity based on renewable sources. Professor Evans argued that national security problems arise from three risk areas. The first is proliferation with respect to the ability to weaponize with the acquisition of civil nuclear power program. The second is terrorism with risks associated with the theft, trafficking, and smuggling of nuclear materials and sabotage of facilities. The final, Professor Evans explained, is nuclear security with respect to disarmament, positing that some states may be reluctant to reach zero in the final stage of disarmament if they find there are enough states with unrestricted rights. While noting that while there is a desirability to address risk factors and areas, Professor Evans argued there is a “huge case for doing more on the regional and global level as well.” He added that Fukushima demonstrated the need for stronger international governance on nuclear safety.

Alfredo Labbe, Chilean Ambassador to the Republic of Austria, began by posing the question “Why energy security or national security? Why the apparent dichotomy of the two types of security at a time of globalization and interdependence that should be compatible and mutually reinforcing?” Ambassador Labbe argued that when it comes to energy security, national policies should be made compatible with global security requirements and international law. In other words, he explained that national energy security within international energy security “is the model to lead this discussion.” If tackled in this way by a law-abiding state willing to cooperate with international rule and norms, Ambassador Labbe explained, “it will not damage national energy security.” He emphasized that Article IV of the NPT recognizes a state’s in inalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes given only to countries in compliance to Article II and III. He went on to argue that “the nuclear option poses nuclear risks that should be dealt in ways that don’t harm legitimacy and political sustainability of the NPT.” Ambassador Labbe also stressed that, “through diplomatic means and multilateral mechanisms, we should tackle this, we shouldn’t create a new layer of discrimination, or we shouldn’t open a new flank for offensive attack against the NPT by creating a new category of have and have nots.”

The audience and panel briefly discussed the possibility of imposing permanent safeguards that should also be complimented by multinational approaches. One expert proposed the IAEA should be obligated to safeguard such facilities. Moderator, Scott Sagan, Caroline S.G. Munro professor of Political Science at Stanford University, responded by noting some in the US would like to see permanent safeguards but he personally did not support mandatory IAEA inspections because of existing resource constraints.