ASEAN Defense: Prayuth? Is this the Thai general you will trust nuclear power plants with?

Potential nuclear disaster from Thailand

  • By Stingray, Thai Intel’s national security journalist

What would you say if a military general of a country asks his countrymen to get rid of some people in the country?

Bangkok Pundit, a journalist at Asian Correspondent has the latest on Prayuth, the commander of the Thai army:

ASTV Manager quotes Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as stating at a merit-making ceremony to mark the 100th Memorial for King Chulalongkorn:

“ขอให้ทุกคนช่วยกันขจัดบุคคลบางกลุ่มที่จาบจ้วงสถาบัน และหยุดล่วงละเมิด และหันมาเทิดทูน เพราะหากวันนี้ไม่มีสถาบัน เราอาจอยู่ได้ แต่ไม่เหมือนในวันนี้” ผบ.ทบ.กล่าว

“I would like to ask everyone to help rid [Thailand] of some individuals who violate the institution and end the violation and instead turn to respect [the institution] because if one day  there is no institution, we will be able to live but it won’t be the same”

BP: Perhaps, Thailand can set up a parliamentary committee to investigate “un-Thai’ activities such as violating the monarchy….

  • What does Prayuth’s calling for the getting rid of some individuals mean? Nation, a local Thai newspaper, provides an example:

New Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday promoted dozens of Army officers who had taken part in the April-May crackdown on red shirts, which resulted in 91 deaths, even though the government appointed fact-finding panel looking into these deaths is nowhere close to providing details on the exact circumstances on each.

Prayuth apparently cannot and will not wait until the findings “clear” these officers of any possible wrongdoing, despite the fact various sources in the Army say excessive and lethal force was employed.

Apparently Prayuth doesn’t care.

  • “Some Individuals” is actually a “Group of people”

Bangkok Pundit translate Prayuth’s Thai statement into English is in-correctly. The word “กลุ่ม” in the above quote of Prayuth’s wording, actually means “group.” So it is not certain individuals that Prayuth is talking about, but is is getting rid of, “A group of Thais.”

The group that Prayuth is talking about, is very large group of Thais that sees the Thai monarchy as not above the law and it is their basic human rights to discuss the monarchy.

Prayuth is talking about getting rid of a very “Large Group” of people, as though it was a normal and correct thing to do. Does this indicate a “Psychotic” behavior?

  • Is Thai Intel over-reacting, in saying that Thailand is not ready for nuclear power, with generals like Prayuth?

Nuclear weapons proliferation is of an extremely important and critical issue and the risks involved must be mitigated. Lets look at Thailand.

  • Military Risk: The commander of the Thai army, Pratuth, already called a hot head by the Bangkok Post, that also favored a hard-line approach on the recent crack down on Red Shirt protester, that saw the slaughtering about 100 protesters and 2,000 injured-is now talking about getting rid of a large group of people.
  • Political Risk: Thailand has a radical ultra-nationalist political party the Yellow Shirt-with a track record of extremist behavior-that with Prayuth-both share a strong belief in the Thai royalism and are part of the royalist elite rule of Thailand-where the Democratic process is weak and can not provide a counter-balance.
  • Socio-Cultural Risk: What makes Thailand having nuclear power plants incredibly risky-is that Prayuth’s positions, as psychotic and radical as he sounds, on issues such as getting rid of large groups of Thais-is that in fact, Prayuth is supported widely in Thailand.

However:

The Center for Strategic and International Study

supports a “Nuclear Thailand”

To sum the following article from CSIS or the Center for Strategic and International Study-basically Obama is all gung-ho about selling Thailand nuclear power plants. The potential contract is in the US$ billions and thus-as the article points out-the US Energy Department is interested in working with the Thais.

The N.Korea and Iran Indicators:

There are some considerations here-when we look at N. Korea and Iran-two countries that have nuclear weapons ambitions. So one may ask-what are the ingredients for N. Korea and Iran to want to have nuclear weapons?

It is a combination-about a radical ruling element, a disregard to human values, nationalism-and a strong sense of anti-global mixed in with a sense of uniqueness-and off course-a disregard to international law. And yes-an enemy or the feeling of being at threat.

Does Thailand Exhibit these Indicators? The answer is “Without a Doubt.”

A Radical Ruling Elite:

This blog just wants to remind CSIS, that the yellow shirt-a radical, nationalistic, highly aggressive mass movement-has now got a political party going-and enjoys a close link to the current non-democratic government that have breached all norms of “Logic and Rational” behavior. The Yellow Shirt is part of the royalist elite rule of Thailand-that is propping up the current government.

Disregard of Human Lives:

This blog also wants to remind CSIS, that the current government, backed by the military that just slaughtered about 100 protesters-said that if the death of protesters does not exceed 500-that level of death is acceptable and the government can carry on. Together, Prayuth, a potential psychotic and a government that does cold blooded calculations on the lost of human lives in a political game-these indicates the “Severe Mental Imbalances” and a total disregard on human lives.

Disregard of International Concerns and Laws:

This blog also wants to remind CSIS of the total disregard of the current government, backed by the yellow shirt and the military, to any global calls-on practically everything-in the brief Thai civil war and after-meaning-a total disregard of international concerns and law.

An Extremely Aggressive Political Force:

This blog just wants to remind CSIS, that if the yellow shirt comes to power in Thailand, in a more stronger manner, any nuclear plants in Thailand-will undoubtedly lead to nuclear weapons ambitions.

A Sense of Uniqueness and Specialness that Must be Protected against Globalism:

The Thai local press and elite rule of Thailand exhibit ample example of this-to the extreme level.

Fear and Protection:

And as far as enemy for the Thais is concerned-consider Burma nuclear weapon ambitions, the rise of Vietnam-and the Thai animosity with Cambodia-where in this case, against the World Court ruling, Thailand claims Cambodia territory openly.

Thai Intel’s Recommendations:

  • Thai Intel recommends CSIS do a detail research on what the yellow shirt have said and done-in the past few yeas. And then do a serious research on Pratuth, a potential psychotic-make note of the support both receives.
  • Then look through the mirage of Thailand being a US ally, all its trimmings of modernity-and deep into the psychosis of the Thai royalist ruling elite.
  • Then the picture of how dangerous it is for Thailand to have nuclear power plants-will become crystal clear.

The following is from CSIS

ASEAN going for nuclear power

July 16th, 2010

Author: Ernest Bower, CSIS

Anyone near the corner of 18th & K Streets last week would immediately align themselves with remarks attributed to Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew regarding air conditioning’s role as the breakthrough technology that helped transform Southeast Asia’s post-colonial commodity-dominated economies into some of the world’s fastest-growing financial and industrial markets.

In addition to enabling ASEAN leaders’ economic plans to be realized, nuclear power can play a significant role providing electricity for running those air conditioners. Adopting safe new-generation nuclear power plants should be a major area for U.S.-ASEAN cooperation. It is an effort that supports our mutual economic and national security interests.

There is no operational nuclear power plant in ASEAN today. However, of the 10-member nations comprising ASEAN, all except Brunei and Laos have active plans for adding nuclear power into the electricity generating mix. In terms of scale, Vietnam has the most aggressive nuclear power ambitions. It recently announced plans to build eight plants by 2030, producing 15,000 to 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Indonesia plans to have four nuclear plants producing 6,000 MW by 2025. Thailand has plans to develop two nuclear plants to generate 2,000 MW by 2022. Singapore, which generates the majority of its power from increasingly scarce gas, has a feasibility plan for nuclear power under way. Other countries are developing similar plans.

Nuclear power is an important option for ASEAN, whose electricity demand is estimated by the International Energy Association (IEA) to increase 76 percent between 2007 and 2030 at an average annual rate of 3.3 percent growth, compared to an estimated 2.5 percent annual growth in demand in the rest of the world over the same period. Meeting the ASEAN countries’ electricity demand will require investing more than $1.1 trillion in the next 25 years.

Contemplation of nuclear energy for ASEAN countries is not new, but today, with growing demand for imported fossil fuels and concerns over the environment, it is much more serious. ASEAN nations are bound by the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone signed in Bangkok, opened for signature on December 15, 1995, and entered into force on March 28, 1997. The treaty states that there will be no prejudice toward the peaceful use of nuclear energy (Article 4). It also states that prior to embarking on nuclear programs, political buy-in is needed from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and from other ASEAN nations.

Nuclear nonproliferation concerns and safeguards will be very important as ASEAN proceeds in developing its nuclear power capabilities. Only one ASEAN country, Burma/Myanmar, is alleged to be developing any plans for nuclear weapons. Those allegations are being investigated by the IAEA and are denied by Burma’s military leaders.

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the IAEA established safeguard standards suitable for application to both simple nuclear activities and to complex nuclear fuel cycles, i.e., a system applicable to reactors and to conversion, enrichment, fabrication, and reprocessing plants that produce and process reactor fuel. Under IAEA guidelines, when a safeguards agreement enters into force, a state has an obligation to declare to the IAEA all nuclear material and facilities subject to safeguards under the agreement. The state must update this information and declare all new nuclear materials and facilities that subsequently become subject to the terms of the agreement. (Source: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force on March 5, 1970, as amended and date signed).

The IAEA has clear accountancy and monitoring rules for tracking declared nuclear material. To be effective, this system requires a high level of confidence, trust, and transparency. These are guidelines ASEAN governments would have every interest in following, but strong engagement from the international community would be helpful. In fact, there is already a strong alliance between the United States and Japan in the new nuclear power plant designs.

ASEAN nations must also negotiate bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the nuclear supplier countries (including the United States, Japan, France, Russia, Canada, and Australia, among others) before they can receive nuclear reactors, fuel, equipment, services, and technology. Some ASEAN countries already have such agreements in place. As part of this process, ASEAN countries will need to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining international standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.

Given the Obama administration’s interest in building international partnerships and consensus on nuclear nonproliferation and climate change, and the president’s commitment to engage ASEAN at new and substantive levels, the nuclear energy field seems a logical area for immediate and expanded cooperation. This engagement is also consistent with the Obama administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years. American companies are among the world’s leaders in various aspects of nuclear power from design/build to energy-related services, but face stiff competition from France, Russia, and Japan. Further, the president has capable leaders to lead this effort. Dr. Stephen Chu, the U.S. secretary of energy, has a strong technical background and mandate to work on related issues. President Obama could initiate this process in the broader context of U.S.-ASEAN energy cooperation, which could include a wide range of issues from renewable energy to energy conservation. One format for such cooperation could be a U.S.-ASEAN Energy Bilateral that would be a step toward the U.S. energy secretary participating in the annual ASEAN Ministers for Energy Meeting (AMEM).

As the mercury rises inside the beltway, U.S. policymakers would be wise to take the opportunity to stay indoors, hydrate aggressively, and open a new chapter of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation on nuclear power. The initiative would serve both ASEAN’s and America’s economic and national security requirements.

This article first appeared here at CSIS.

Ernest Z. Bower is Senior Adviser and Director of the Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies,