Indonesian nuclear proliferation – contemporary

Indonesian nuclear proliferation – contemporary


Absent substantial nuclear power generation facilities the likelihood of nuclear weapons development is of little concern, however the prospect of the establishment of four 1,000 MW reactors in Central Java has re-opened the question of whether such a possibility is likely in the foreseeable future.

There are three separate sources of concern, though none are warranted at this stage. The first is that a future Indonesian government could overtly or covertly move to develop a nuclear device from a domestic nuclear power industry base. The second is that the substantial Indonesian nuclear establishment is of sufficient size and depth to open the possibility of an A.Q.Khan-type of nuclear black-market activity, whether with the complicity of government or not, and whether in concert with foreign or domestic non-state actors, foreign countries, or a complex mixture of all three. The third is the possibility that recent affirmations of friendship and mutual support in scientific and industrial activities between Indonesia and Iran, including peaceful nuclear technical collaboration, could provide an avenue for collaboration on nuclear weapons development. While there have been high-level meetings and agreements between the two governments, there has been little concrete by way of mutual assistance, and no substance to these concerns at present.          


Michael S. Malley, ‘Prospects For Nuclear Proliferation In Southeast Asia, 2006-2016’, The Nonproliferation Review, (2006), 13:3, 605 – 615.

“In tandem, these two trends – Indonesia’s growing energy demand and closer technical cooperation with Iran – have the capacity to produce an environment in which the number of nuclear-trained personnel in Indonesia grows rapidly to support a domestic nuclear power industry, while domestic political forces encourage collaboration between Indonesian and Iranian counterparts who may not share Indonesia’s official and well established opposition to nuclear proliferation.”

“[Indonesia’s] own determination to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes, and its customary determination to resist outside intervention, may lead it to take positions that ultimately facilitate wider proliferation networks. Both scenarios suggest that U.S. government officials ought to ask not just whether countries are likely to proliferate, but how people in those countries might be drawn into regional and global proliferation networks.”pp. 610-612

Indonesia, Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, Center for Non-Proliferation Studies.

Countries of Strategic Nuclear Concern: Indonesia, SIPRI.

See also

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: the Southeast Asia Connection


 Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Additional research: Arabella Imhoff

Updated: 8 December 2008