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Weapons parts seized; not a threat, says govt

March 17, 2011

Two containers which may contain parts used to make nuclear weapons were seized at Port Klang.

UPDATED

KUALA LUMPUR: Police confirmed today they have seized two containers which may contain parts used to make nuclear weapons, from a ship bound for western Asia.

“I can confirm that we have seized the containers at Port Klang but we do not know yet whether these are possibly parts to help make weapons of mass destruction or nuclear items,” Inspector-General of Police Ismail Omar told AFP.

“We are waiting for a report from our nuclear agency on the parts seized before we can make any determination and investigations are still ongoing,” he added.

His comments follow a front page story in the Sun daily which said police had seized “parts of an equipment believed used to make weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warhead” from a ship about 10 days ago.

The paper said the Malaysian-registered vessel, which had arrived from China and was headed for western Asia, carried dismantled equipment parts which were listed among items subject to controlled and restricted sale by the UN Security Council and other international laws.

It said the captain and crew were questioned by police before being allowed to leave port with their vessel, while authorities impounded the two containers and their contents.

No threat, says minister

In a related development, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the public need not be unduly alarmed over the seizure of weapon parts.

The weapon parts were seized from two containers of a ship anchored at West Port, Port Klang. The ship from China was bound for Iran when the police intercepted it, based on intelligence, said a Bernama report.

“Since it does not pose any threat to the country and it can be addressed, I don’t have to alarm the public,” he said, adding that Malaysian authorities would liaise with international intelligence (network) and experts to resolve the matter.

He said the seizure of the containers was nothing unique nor unusual, adding that such cases had happened before.

“In the past, we have dealt with serious cases that come to us without people knowing (about) and without causing security threat. So, we just have to deal with it profesionally,” he said.

Strategic Trade Bill

Last April, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said his country would strictly enforce a new law to curb trafficking of nuclear weapons components after being linked to the illegal supply of sensitive technology to Iran and Libya.

Malaysia’s Parliament passed the Strategic Trade Bill early last year, which provides for prison terms of at least five years and fines of millions of ringgit for those illegally bringing in or exporting material that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction.

The government has denied involvement in the illegal 2008 export of nuclear weapons to Iran although it confirmed the involvement of one of its nationals.

In addition, a Sri Lankan businessman living in Malaysia was jailed in 2004 for allegedly supplying nuclear weapon components to Libya and linked to a nuclear black market run by Pakistan’s disgraced scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Khan had admitted passing nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea in a confession in February 2004, placing him in the thick of a global atomic black market.

- wires


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