"If you want to build nuclear plants in places like Vietnam, which do not have the governance, which do not have the infrastructure and also face rising sea levels as well as extreme weather events, against which concentrated power is vulnerable, to sell them that stuff [nuclear power] is morally suspect," said Andrew DeWit, a professor of policy studies at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.
Thailand said late last year that its new Power Development Plan provides for the construction of new coal-fired and nuclear power plants in the next 20 years.
(Read more: Asian cities most at risk of extreme weather)
Hungary meanwhile said recently that it would expand its only nuclear power plant, more than doubling its capacity in a move that is expected to become hot election topic when voters go to the polls later this year.
According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an agreement for up to $9 billion worth of financing was signed in November 2011 between Vietnam and Russia to fund nuclear power development, and a second agreement for $500 million loan covered the creation of a nuclear science and technology centre.
Total investment in nuclear power plants in China will reach $75 billion by 2015, according to data from the China National Nuclear Corporation cited by the WNA.
The elephant in the room
For Andrews-Speed at the NUS, China is the "elephant in the room" in terms of risks from nuclear energy because of the scale of its plans.
China had 15 nuclear reactors in operation in 2012 and 26 reactors under construction, the highest in the world, Euromonitor said. According to the World Nuclear Association, China has plans to begin the construction of more nuclear reactors over the coming years to give it a four-fold increase in nuclear capacity by 2020.
"China is a country I worked on for more than 20 years. It has a real problem in all energy and resource and environment sectors of regulation and safety standards. They can draft the rules but are they capable of implementing them?," said Andrews-Speed.
"Now, they haven't had any major nuclear incidents in the past 10 years when they've had nuclear plants. But then they've had a relatively small number of plants and now you have a multiplication of plants," he added.
— By CNBC.Com's Dhara Ranasinghe; Follow her on Twitter @DharaCNBC