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Malaysia Seen as Possible WMD Transport Hub

March 23, 2011


Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein on Monday said his country was probably used as a midshipment point for the illicit movement of WMD materials, The Star newspaper reported (see GSN, March 18).

“It is safe for me to say that Malaysia is likely being used as a transit point and not as a destination point for WMD,” Hishammuddin said.

Authorities in the Southeast Asian state last week announced they had seized two containers from a Malaysian-flagged ship that were filled with technology that could have applications in the building of nuclear weapons. Reports indicated the vessel was heading from China to Iran.

“It will take us some time to identify the equipment, what it can be used for and to trace the source of the equipment,” the home minister said.

“We are also examining whether the items can be used in the context of making WMD and have enlisted the help of government agencies and foreign experts to examine the equipment,” Hishammuddin added.

He acknowledged that this month’s seizure was not the first such incident in Malaysia. Previous occurrences had been probed and concluded in a satisfactory manner, Hishammuddin said without providing additional details.

“If it had been serious, that information would have already been made public,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur has been criticized in the past for an absence of export control regulations that allowed smugglers to use Malaysia as a transit point in the shipment of WMD technology to nations such as North Korea, Iran and Libya. A strategic trade law passed last year was intended to address the concern by setting significant financial penalties and jail sentences for traffickers (see GSN, March 17; The Star, March 22)

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