Rose visited Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam to discuss nonproliferation, cooperation to counter nuclear smuggling, and more

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose in a group photo at the Thai Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Principal Deputy Administrator Rose in a group photo at the Thai Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose visited regional partners in Southeast Asia from February 19-26, making stops in Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This 10-day trip focused on discussions on nuclear security and nonproliferation, strategic trade controls, emergency response coordination, 123 agreements, and nuclear smuggling and detection.

“Southeast Asia is a rapidly growing region in a dynamic part of the world,” Rose said. “It is vital we continue to engage with our regional partners, who are in many ways leaders on matters of nuclear security. I look forward to continuing to build on these relationships.”

Rose began his trip in Thailand on February 19, where he met with Thai Minister of Commerce Phumtham Wechayachai to discuss the necessity of strategic trade controls in the 21st century economy. In their meeting, Rose highlighted the U.S. commitment to collaboration with Thailand, offering to work closely together to ensure the implementation of the Trade Controls on Weapons of Mass Destruction Related Items Act. Both parties renewed their commitment to global security and economic prosperity while maintaining a balance between national security imperatives and economic growth.
 

Our mutual commitment to nuclear security results in concrete action towards our shared goals in many different dimensions.

Frank Rose
NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator

Rose then met with the Secretary-General of the Thai Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP), Dr. Pasit Lorterapong, to discuss the importance of nuclear safety and security. Rose and Lorterapong discussed the need for broader regional cooperation among ASEAN states in nuclear safety. Lorterapong and OAP offered to bolster the commitment to nuclear safety across the region by working to get all ASEAN states to sign onto existing comprehensive safeguard agreements established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Rose also offered to aid the OAP in its efforts to educate the public on the benefits of nuclear energy in achieving climate change goal.

Rose concluded his visit to Thailand by meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he discussed efforts to combat nuclear smuggling by enhancing detection and deterrence capabilities. Rose also proposed expanded cooperation with the Royal Thai Armed Forces and Royal Thai police to strengthen deterrence of nuclear smuggling.

“We are grateful for our robust partnership with Thailand,” stated Rose. “Our mutual commitment to nuclear security results in concrete action towards our shared goals in many different dimensions.”

On February 20 Rose conducted bilateral meetings in Singapore, starting with Stanley Loh, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment. Rose expressed strong appreciation for Singapore’s continued commitment to nuclear security, as the nation has implemented the highest standard of IAEA safeguards since 2008. Loh expressed strong eagerness about finalizing a 123 agreement with the United States to help Singapore explore safe nuclear power generation as part of a clean energy mix. In pursuit of this bilateral relationship, Rose and Loh discussed possible NNSA training for Singapore on regulation development, security, and public engagement.

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment Stanley Loh.
Principal Deputy Administrator Rose with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment Stanley Loh.

Rose then met with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Luke Goh. Together, they discussed the strong counterproliferation cooperation between the United States and Singapore. Goh highlighted that Singapore’s active participation with the IAEA, and Rose expressed the U.S. appreciation for Singapore’s continued support for international initiatives like AUKUS.

Rose subsequently visited Cambodia February 20-23, where he met with Secretary of State of the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Vice-President of the Secretariat of the National Counterterrorism Committee Ung Eang to discuss radiological security. Rose highlighted NNSA-hosted workshops on enhancing radiological security in Cambodia and the broader region, and the two discussed current gaps in equipment and training. Rose underscored NNSA’s desire to expand collaboration with local law enforcement and to continue conversations with the Cambodian government. 

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose with Sreya Hong, Deputy Chief of Administration and Management Office at Cambodia’s Sihanoukville International Port Customs and Excise Branch.
Principal Deputy Administrator Rose with Sreya Hong, Deputy Chief of Administration and Management Office at Cambodia’s Sihanoukville International Port Customs and Excise Branch.

Rose further commended Cambodia’s cooperation in upholding IAEA safeguards in a meeting with Undersecretary of State for UN Affairs Ke Sovann. In a subsequent meeting, Chairman and CEO of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port Lou Kim Chhun updated Rose on the expansion of the Sihanoukville port and the need for additional training and equipment to combat nuclear smuggling. Rose also met with the Director of the Sihanoukville branch of the Customs and Excise Department, Sokhom Norng, who shared key challenges faced by the port: aging equipment, a lack of spare parts, and certain knowledge gaps. Rose reaffirmed his commitment to providing additional bilateral and regional training opportunities for frontline workers.

“The growth and expansion of Cambodia’s anti-nuclear smuggling operation is impressive, and we will provide whatever training we can to ensure they can continue this work,” remarked Rose.

Rose concluded his trip on February 26 in Vietnam. In meetings with the Agency of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Rose discussed the importance of strategic trade management for effective nuclear nonproliferation.

Rose then met with Đỗ Hồng Giang, Vice President of the Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute. Giang thanked Rose and the United States for supporting several technical study trips and supplying radiation detection systems and ultrasound screen technology. Rose reaffirmed the United States’ strong support for the development of Vietnamese nuclear energy while continuing to adhere to the highest level of security safeguards and standards, as part of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 

Principal Deputy Administrator Rose at Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with Director General Le Chi Dung of the Americas Department.
Principal Deputy Administrator Rose at Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with Director General Le Chi Dung of the Americas Department.

Finally, Rose met with Lê Chí Dũng, Director General of the Americas Department for the to discuss the importance of strategic trade management in supporting nuclear nonproliferation. Rose recommended that Vietnam include strategic trade management systems when drafting nonproliferation laws, pointing towards current efforts to work with Thailand on these same issues.

“Working with regional partners is necessary for our work in Southeast Asia,” remarked Rose reflecting on the trip. “I am grateful that I was able to spend this time bolstering our relationships with each of these nations further.”