The US will assist Thailand in developing nuclear power plants through a newer class of small nuclear reactors as part of a program to combat climate change, US Vice President Harris announced at APEC on Saturday.
The assistance was provided as part of the White House’s Net Zero World Initiative. The project was hatched at the Glasgow climate summit in which the US collaborates with the private entities and philanthropists to promote clean energy at any cost.
Thailand does not have nuclear power, as public opinion has soured since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. Since 1962, the country has had a small research reactor.
The Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology has proposed constructing a 20-megawatt nuclear reactor site in Nakhon Nayok’s Ongkharak district, but it has been met with strong community opposition.
The Bangkok Post reported that the US it would provide technical assistance to Thailand in developing technology of small modular nuclear reactors.
Such nuclear reactors are considered safer because they don’t require human intervention to shut down in an emergency.
“The US looks forward to working with Thailand to take advantage of the benefits of small modular nuclear reactors and reliable, clean energy sources,” said an anonymous senior US official travelling with Harris.
Developing small modular nuclear reactors
According to a White House statement, US experts will collaborate with Thailand on the deployment of the nuclear reactors, which will meet the “highest standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation” and have a smaller land footprint than alternatives.
China, Russia, and Argentina are also developing small modular reactors, with prototypes currently in design.
The White House did not provide a timeline but stated that it would support Thailand’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2065, which is highly vulnerable to climate change.
Harris, in Thailand for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, will discuss the nuclear power initiative with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha later Saturday.
The White House also announced a partnership with Thailand to improve the security of 5G broadband and a project to construct a “world-class” cancer treatment centre in Chon Buri province.
Apec Protesters Released
Meanwhile, 23 of the 25 APEC protesters detained after a clash with riot police in Bangkok on Friday have been released on bail, with the remaining two expected to be released by Sunday.
After a clash with police near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Friday morning, the 25 anti-government demonstrators were detained taken to Bangkok’s Thung Song Hong police station.
The clash erupted as “Citizens Stop Apec 2022” attempted to march from the Democracy Monuments to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC), seven kilometres away, where the APEC summit was being held.
As tensions rose, riot police used rubber bullets to keep demonstrators from moving from Democracy Monument and made some arrests. More demonstrators were arrested later, bringing the total to 25.
Around 4 p.m. on Friday, about 100 protesters gathered in front of Thung Song Hong police, yelling “Free our friends” and demanded the release of their detained colleagues. The police cordoned off the compound and formed a line inside.
Police agreed to release the 25 detained APEC protesters on a 20,000 baht surety after several hours of questioning and detention.
After their paperwork was completed at half past midnight, 23 demonstrators were released. One of their bail conditions is that they do not participate in any political rallies. They were also forbidden from persuading others to gather illegally or engaging in any activity that would cause social unrest.
On Saturday, the remaining two detained APEC protesters were expected to be released.
Police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters, according to anti-government activist Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, a leading member of the demonstration group. According to her, violence against people resulted in casualties, with some suffering serious injuries.
According to the Erawan Medical Centre, ten people were injured in the Friday afternoon clash. One protester was said to have suffered a serious eye injury.
In clashes with the APEC demonstrators five police officers were injured.
Police have been chastised for their actions, most notably for roughing up a journalist wearing a Press armband and shoving an elderly monk into a wall, both of which have gone viral on video.