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Journal article

The Slovakian “Inspirasi” for Indonesian nuclear power: the “success” of a permanently failing organization

31 Oct 2015

The most curious and telling episode in more than four decades of Indonesia’s nuclear power planning was the nuclear establishment’s promotion of the tiny European country of Slovakia as an “inspiration” and national industrial partner for a proposed Bangka Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). Between 2009 and 2013, Indonesia’s national nuclear power agency, Badan Tenaga Nuklir (BATAN), actively promoted the Bangka Slovakian proposal within Indonesia, internationally with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the global nuclear media, and most importantly, in the province of Bangka-Belitung (Babel). 

By 2014, this coordinated promotion of the Slovakian inspiration of the Bangka NPP project had died to almost nothing, gone with as little in the way of truthful public explanation as had informed its arrival. But by then the campaign had done its job of launching the Bangka NPP idea, keeping alive the promise of safe nuclear power after Fukushima, helping BATAN secure an important alliance with the then Babel provincial government, and most importantly, constructing a kind of informational fog of fantasy and uncertainty that deflected attention from increasingly effective domestic critics of an Indonesian nuclear power program. 

The Indonesian national nuclear power agency (BATAN) is a classic example of a permanently failing organization that survives due to external support and frequent announcements of imminent construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP). Between 2009 and 2013 BATAN claimed the Slovakian nuclear power industry as its mentoring partner and inspiration in building an NPP in Bangka-Belitung. BATAN failed to mention the scandal-ridden state of the now foreign-owned Slovakian nuclear industry, its catastrophic past, and its nonexistent construction capacity. The Slovakia/Bangka campaign, baseless though it was in reality, functioned as a kind of informational fog of fantasy that deflected attention from domestic critics of an Indonesian nuclear program.

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