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Overview Last updated: March, 2014

Experts consider it highly unlikely that Indonesia will undertake WMD proliferation programs in the foreseeable future.[1] Indonesia does not possess nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and is a member in good standing of most relevant nonproliferation treaties and organizations. Although Indonesia actively cooperates with neighboring Singapore and Malaysia on maritime security issues, Jakarta has not agreed to participate in the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), due to concerns that PSI-related activities could encroach on its national sovereignty and may contradict the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.[2]

As an active participant of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Indonesia has generally been critical of those non-universal nonproliferation mechanisms that potentially limit the access of non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) to technologies for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Indonesia has particularly been skeptical of multilateral export control regimes, viewing them as supply cartels that impede the flow of technology to the developing world, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Indonesia has a nascent export control system and does not maintain control lists for most dual-use items. The Indonesian government does control chemicals listed within the Chemical Weapons Convention, as part of its treaty obligations. Indonesia has been looking to foreign partners—including the United States, the European Union, and Japan—to help with implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, and especially the strengthening of its dual-use control lists.[3]


Indonesia does not have a nuclear weapons program, although President Sukarno, Indonesia's leader from 1945 to 1967, considered the option in the mid-1960s.[4] After Sukarno's removal from power in 1967, the Indonesian government agreed to a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement for its fledgling nuclear facilities. In 1970, Indonesia signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state, ratifying it in 1979.[5] Indonesia acceded to the Additional Protocol in 1999, becoming the first state in Southeast Asia to be bound by this more rigorous verification mechanism.[6] Indonesia is a member of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (the Bangkok Treaty), which went into force in 1997. Indonesia signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, and ratified in February 2012.[7]

A feasibility study commissioned by Indonesia's nuclear authorities in the mid-1990s identified nuclear power as one viable avenue for meeting domestic energy needs in the future. This study suggested 14 possible locations for nuclear power plants. The first site to be considered in detail was on Java's Muria peninsula.[8] Experts concerned about the volcanic and seismic risks of the area, as well as local groups and environmental organizations, consistently protested the proposed site. This strong opposition led Indonesian nuclear authorities to remove Muria from the list of potential sites in 2010.[9] The controversy surrounding where to locate the first nuclear power plant highlighted two key challenges facing Indonesia's future nuclear development: (1) concerns about placing facilities in areas prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; and (2) the not unrelated difficulty of winning over the strong opposition to nuclear energy in a state with an active, albeit newfound, democratic system.

Despite ongoing opposition to nuclear power, the Indonesian government promulgated an energy policy in 2006 aimed at diversifying domestic energy supply, including the construction of a number of nuclear power plants.[10] While the 2006 energy policy called for the first reactor to be completed by 2016, that timeline has been pushed back due to political and bureaucratic infighting in Jakarta. Indonesia currently has three research reactors and has worked closely with the IAEA on domestic preparations for a more robust civilian nuclear sector.[11] The three existing sites which include research reactors are: the Bandung Nuclear Complex, with a 2MWt TRIGA Mark II reactor; the Yogyakarta Nuclear Complex, with a 100kW Kartini TRIGA Mark II reactor; and the Serpong Nuclear Complex, which houses the 30MWt G.A. Siwabessy Multipurpose Research Reactor.[12]

Indonesia is a signatory to the Joint Convention of the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. However, concerns remain about the ability of the Indonesian government to fully ensure the safety and security of its nuclear materials, particularly from non-state actors such as terrorist groups.[13] In July 2012, Indonesia installed its first radiation portal monitor (RPM) at the port of Belawan. The monitor, donated by the IAEA, will be used to detect nuclear or radioactive substinces that may enter the seaport.[14]


Indonesia is not believed to have ever pursued the development of biological weapons (BW).[15] Jakarta became a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in 1972, and ratified it in 1992. Jakarta participates regularly in meetings of BTWC state parties, and has hosted meetings on regional efforts to improve the treaty's implementation.[16]

Indonesia is not a member of the Australia Group. Jakarta has a growing medical and agricultural research industry, which could begin to present a proliferation risk if proper export controls are not put into place.[17] Currently, Indonesia relies on its domestic laws and regulations to manage the prevention and suppression of biological weapons, including the Penal Code, Law on Customs, Law on Animal, Fish and Plant Quarantine, Law Concerning Money Laundering Crimes, Law on the Eradication of Criminal Acts of Terrorism, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade Decree.[18] However, Indonesia is also in the process of drafting the Bill on the Implementation of BWC.[19]


Jakarta is not known to have developed or attempted to procure chemical weapons-related materials. Indonesia became a signatory of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993, and ratified the CWC in 1998. As part of its CWC obligations, Indonesia controls chemicals listed within the treaty and additionally, enacted the Law of the Republic of Indonesia on the Use of Chemical Materials and the Prohibition of Chemical Materials as Chemical Weapons in 2008.[20] Indonesia also emphasizes the total destruction of chemical weapons by the remaining states in possession of CW as the main priority of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and is of the view that OPCW’s verification capabilities should be enhanced in order to increase confidence in the system.[21]

In the 1980s, Indonesia's security forces used non-persistent choking agents and CS gas (a riot control agent), in East Timor. The Indonesian government maintains the ability to use these types of agents for domestic law enforcement purposes, which is permitted by the CWC. Indonesia imports these chemicals rather than producing them domestically.[22]


Indonesia's navy and air force maintain a small inventory of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. Jakarta is not a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and does not have control lists covering dual-use materials.

Among the Indonesian Air Force's (TNI-AU) inventory are the U.S.-origin AIM-9P-4 and AGM-65 Maverick Sidewinder, as well as the Chinese QianWei-3. Jakarta also appears to have received the AA-10 'Alamo' and AA-11 'Archer' from Russia with its acquisition of Sukhoi fighters in 2007.[23] Additionally, Russian state media announced a U.S. $54 million deal to provide munitions for Indonesia's Sukhoi-family fighters in November 2010.[24]

The Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) maintains a small number of C-802 and C-705 anti-ship missiles obtained from China, as well as French-origin AM 39 Exocet systems.[25] On 22 March 2011, Indonesia and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation. The MOU entails, among other things, technology transfer and joint development of weapons. The Indonesian side expresses hope to procure more C-907 missiles from this arrangement.[26] Talks held in Beijing on 25 February 2014 confirm the commitment to military-to-military collaboration between China and Indonesia. Although no defense procurements were explicitly mentioned during the talks, discussion continues as to Indonesian production of the C-705 surface-to-surface missile, with China expressing “concerns about intellectual property proliferation, given Indonesia’s intention to only produce the missile in-country but also export the system to third parties.”[27]

[1] Michael S. Malley and Tanya Ogilvie-White, "Nuclear Capabilities in Southeast Asia," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2009; and "Nuclear Safety in Southeast Asia: Issues, Challenges, and Regional Strategy," CSIS (Indonesia) Strategic Policy Report 2010.
[2] Charles Wolf, Jr., "Asia's Nonproliferation Laggards: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia," Wall Street Journal, 9 February 2009; and Stephanie Lieggi, "Proliferation Security Initiative Exercise Hosted by Japan Shows Growing Interest in Asia But No Sea Change in Key Outsider States," WMD Insights (December 2007 to January 2008), www.wmdinsights.com.
[3] Discussions between CNS researcher Stephanie Lieggi and Indonesian government officials, Jakarta, February 2011.
[4] Sukarno officially had only one name; this is not uncommon in Indonesia. For more on Sukarno's interest in nuclear weapons, see Robert M. Cornejo, "When Sukarno Sought the Bomb: Indonesian Nuclear Aspirations in the Mid-1960s," The Nonproliferation Review, Summer 2000.
[5] "Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Status of Treaty," Indonesia entry, accessed 1 March 2011, www.un.org.
[6] "Status of Additional Protocols," International Atomic Energy Agency, 20 December 2010, www.iaea.org.
[7] For more background see: Sean Dunlop and Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, "Indonesia Takes the Lead on the CTBT," CNS Feature Story, 4 May 2010, http://cns.miis.edu.
[8] "Nuclear Safety in Southeast Asia: Issues, Challenges, and Regional Strategy," CSIS (Indonesia) Strategic Policy Report 2010, pp.7-9.
[9] Discussions between CNS researcher Stephanie Lieggi and Indonesian nuclear agency officials, February 2011; see also Richard Tanter, Arabella Imhoff, and David Von Hippel, "Nuclear Power, Risk Management and Democratic Accountability in Indonesia: Volcanic, Regulatory and Financial Risk in the Muria Peninsula Nuclear Power Proposal," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 21 December 2009, www.japanfocus.org.
[10] Michael S. Malley and Tanya Ogilvie-White, "Nuclear Capabilities In Southeast Asia," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2009.
[11] "Nuclear Safety in Southeast Asia: Issues, Challenges, and Regional Strategy," CSIS (Indonesia) Strategic Policy Report 2010, pp.7-9.
[12] "Preventing Nuclear Dangers in Southeast Asia and Australasia," IISS Strategic Dossier, September 2009, pp. 65-66, www.iiss.org.
[13] "Nuclear Safety in Southeast Asia: Issues, Challenges, and Regional Strategy," CSIS (Indonesia) Strategic Policy Report 2010, pp.50-51.
[14] Apriadi Gunawan, "Nuclear Detector Installed at Belawan Seaport," The Jakarta Post, 19 July 2012, http://www.thejakartapost.com
[15] "Strategic Weapons System, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 8 October 2010.
[16] "Transcription of the Statement Given by Indonesia to the BTWC 2007 Meeting of Experts," 20 August 2007, www.brad.ac.uk.
[17] "Strategic Weapons System, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 8 October 2010.
[18] "Indonesia Legislative Database," United Nations, accessed 3 August 2011, www.un.org.
[19] "Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Biological Weapons," Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, 7 July 2010, www.deplu.go.id.
[20] "Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Chemical Weapons," Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, 7 July 2010, www.deplu.go.id.
[21] "Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Chemical Weapons," Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, 7 July 2010, www.deplu.go.id.
[22] "Strategic Weapons System, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 8 October 2010.
[23] "Air Force, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 1 December 2010.
[24] "Russia Signs $54-mln Arms Contract with Indonesia," RIA Novosti, 10 November 2010, http://en.rian.ru.
[25] "Navy, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 12 January 2011.
[26] "Procurement, Indonesia," Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, 12 January 2011.
[27] “Indonesia and China Looked to Enhance Defence Co-operation,” Janes Defence Weekly, 26 February 2014.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

Get the Facts on Indonesia

  • Ratified the CTBT in February 2012
  • Operates three research reactors and is currently considering nuclear power reactors
  • No history of biological or chemical weapons development