The US is helping Thailand to develop small nuclear reactors

The United States will help Thailand develop nuclear power through a new class of small reactors as part of a program to combat climate change, Vice President Kamala Harris announced during a visit on Saturday.

The White House said the aid is part of its Net Zero World initiative, a project launched at last year’s Glasgow climate summit, which sees the US working with the private sector and philanthropists to promote clean energy.

Thailand does not have nuclear power, and public sentiment on the issue deteriorated following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The White House said it will offer technical assistance to the Southeast Asian country to deploy the evolving technology of small modular reactors that are factory-made and portable. Such reactors are generally considered safer because they do not require human intervention to shut down in an emergency.

“We very much look forward to working with Thailand to take advantage of small modular reactors and reliable clean energy sources,” said a senior US official traveling with Harris, on condition of anonymity.

A White House statement said US experts would work with Thailand to deploy reactors that meet the “highest safety and non-proliferation standards” and have a smaller footprint than alternatives.

The US competitors China and Russia as well as Argentina are also developing small modular reactors, the prototypes of which are in the design phase.

The White House gave no timeline but said it will support Thailand, which is highly vulnerable to climate change, on its goal to become carbon neutral by 2065.

Harris, who is visiting the US ally for an Asia-Pacific economic cooperation summit, will discuss the nuclear power initiative in a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha later on Saturday.

The White House also announced an initiative with Thailand to increase the security of the fifth-generation internet and a project to build a “world-class” cancer treatment center in eastern Chonburi province.

© 2022 AFP

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