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Jakarta Post

Time for nuclear power? Luhut tells tale of Indonesia ‘having it all’ 

  • Made Anthony Iswara

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, February 4, 2020   /   04:39 pm
Time for nuclear power? Luhut tells tale of Indonesia ‘having it all’  Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has shared a story of his enlightenment that maybe Indonesia, after all, needs to have nuclear power.

Luhut, a retired Army general, recalled a moment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, in which he spoke to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, asking: “Who has wrought havoc in the world? It’s countries with nuclear power.”

Luhut shared the story at the launch of the “Agriculture War Room” at the Agriculture Ministry in Jakarta on Tuesday. He said he was “triggered” to start the discussion on nuclear power with the President after seeing an American general who only wanted to speak with North Korea and China, and not with Indonesia.

“[Indonesia] was overlooked. In my mind I was, ‘damn you’. I told him, ‘Hey, general, I am also a US graduate. You know what? Our country has it all’,” Luhut said.

“As a general I also thought of having nuclear power, but President Jokowi is still discussing about prosperity issues. [But the American general] told me, ‘General, don’t ever think about that’. I thought in my mind, maybe only if we have nuclear power will it scare you.”

Luhut closed his remarks with that statement, after boasting of the vast resources of green energy that Indonesia can develop. He shared the nuclear story to make a point that: “Indonesia has it all” in terms of resources for power generation and to become self-sufficient.

It was not certain whether Luhut implied that he would use nuclear power for power plants, research or weaponry. Still, his current position contrasts with his previous stance that prioritized nuclear development for research purposes only, not as an energy source.

Luhut in 2017 expressed reluctance when the Russian Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation offered to develop turnkey nuclear power plants in Indonesia.

“However, we have told them that we are not ready yet. We need to raise public awareness, which takes time,” he said following a meeting with Rosatom representatives at his office in Jakarta in 2017.

The new "Agriculture War Room" will allow the Agriculture Ministry to better update its data through a satellite-backed monitoring system, generating informations on the area of ​​paddy fields, fertilizer supply and harvest area. Apart from Luhut, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and House of Representatives’ Commission IV chairman Hasan Aminuddin attended the launch event, among others.