Singapore Mulls Steps to Ratify Nuclear Security Pact

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Global Security Newswire Staff
May 28, 2014, 10:38 a.m.

Singa­pore is con­sid­er­ing up­dates to its laws that would en­able the coun­try to join a treaty on pro­tect­ing nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­als from theft, Today re­ports.

The bill — in­tro­duced days be­fore Singa­pore is set to host the an­nu­al Shangri-La re­gion­al se­cur­ity for­um — would al­low the South­east Asi­an na­tion to join the Con­ven­tion on the Phys­ic­al Pro­tec­tion of Nuc­le­ar Ma­ter­i­al, as well as a 2005 amend­ment ex­pand­ing on the ori­gin­al pact, the news­pa­per re­por­ted on Tues­day. The ori­gin­al treaty sets stand­ards for se­cur­ing in­ter­na­tion­al ship­ments of ci­vil­ian nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­al, while the 2005 up­date would ap­ply sim­il­ar meas­ures for the do­mest­ic use and trans­fer of non­mil­it­ary atom­ic sub­stances.

“We are small and densely pop­u­lated. Any nuc­le­ar or ra­di­olo­gic­al in­cid­ent would be a ma­jor dis­aster, per­haps an ex­ist­en­tial one,” Singa­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong said in March, when he an­nounced plans to bring Singa­pore in­to line with the atom­ic pacts.

“We are also an in­ter­na­tion­al hub — our eco­nomy, trade and se­cur­ity can eas­ily be af­fected by a nuc­le­ar ac­ci­dent else­where,” he ad­ded at the 2014 Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Sum­mit in The Hag­ue, Neth­er­lands.

The meas­ure he pro­posed this week would amend Singa­pore’s Ra­di­ation Pro­tec­tion Act to out­law any use of atom­ic sub­stances to kill or in­jure a per­son, or to in­flict sig­ni­fic­ant harm to prop­erty.

It would also render il­leg­al any threat to steal nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­al as a means of black­mail, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per. The le­gis­la­tion would per­mit ex­tra­di­tion of sus­pec­ted nuc­le­ar of­fend­ers, and en­able au­thor­it­ies to pro­sec­ute in­di­vidu­als for al­leged atom­ic vi­ol­a­tions car­ried out over­seas.

In ad­di­tion, the meas­ure would in­crease from two to five years the max­im­um pen­alty for il­leg­ally trans­fer­ring or hold­ing nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­al.

The ori­gin­al phys­ic­al-pro­tec­tion treaty had 149 mem­ber na­tions as of Decem­ber. The amend­ment, which has yet to take ef­fect, as of last month had 75 mem­ber na­tions; the United States has yet to rat­i­fy the new­er pro­vi­sion.

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