Thursday, May 26, 2011

Botox could be used for WMD

Source Website:
Rachel Chan,, my paper, Wed, May 25, 2011

PHOTO: Botox and gyroscopes may be seen as necessities in industries such as aesthetics and manufacturing.

PHOTO: Rachel Chan The writer Rachel Chan posing in front of the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Alvin Lim / ST, SPU, Reuters, AFP

ITEMS like Botox and gyroscopes may be seen as necessities in industries such as aesthetics and manufacturing.

But in the eyes of would-be terrorists, they are seen as key components which could be used to illicitly develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

For example, a chemical called triethanolamine - widely used in cosmetics and shampoo - as well as botulinum toxins (better known by their trade name, Botox) could be misused to produce chemical-warfare agents.

PHOTO: Seemingly harmless "dual-use" products, are categorised as "strategic goods". Countries adapt their approaches to stop proliferation

These, along with a slew of seemingly harmless "dual-use" products, are categorised as "strategic goods".

This was shared at the 12th International Export Control Conference, held in Singapore for the first time yesterday morning, where 320 delegates from 77 countries met to exchange pointers on countering the proliferation of WMD.

Singapore is co-hosting the event with the United States and the European Union.

PHOTO: Botox and gyroscopes may be seen as necessities in industries such as aesthetics and manufacturing.

Export-control officials highlighted that the misuse of global trade to proliferate WMD is among the gravest threats to global security and regional stability.

Mr Vann Van Diepen, Acting Assistant Secretary of State at the US State Department, said that proliferators of WMD are adapting their methods to get their dangerous cargo to their destinations.

These include using circuitous shipping routes, falsifying shipping documents and using front companies, cut-outs and brokers.

For instance, the Thai authorities interdicted an aircraft from Pyongyang that landed in Bangkok to refuel in December 2009. It was carrying 35 tonnes of conventional weapons, including rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles.

The cargo was falsely claimed to be "mechanical parts". A number of flight plans in both directions was also filed to cover the tracks of the proliferators, said Mr Van Diepen.

In another instance in August 2009, he shared, the United Arab Emirates seized military equipment falsely described on shipping documents as oil-machinery spare parts.

The cargo was Customs-sealed and loaded onto a North Korean ship in North Korea, and was trans-shipped several times en route to its declared destination of Iran.

This is why countries must also adapt their approaches to stop proliferation, Mr Van Diepan added.

"Our responsibility extends beyond simply monitoring our own exports; we must also deal with the flow of sensitive goods that are imported and re-exported, and that are in transit or trans-shipment," he said.

With Asia in the middle of trade routes between Iran and North Korea - countries known to be proliferators - it is important that Asian countries must help detect, deter and dismantle proliferation schemes, said Mr Van Diepen.

"Because of geography, Asia and South-east Asia, in particular, are places that proliferators traditionally exploit to do their business. If you're going to ship technology from North Korea to Iran, you've basically got to go through this region," he said.

"That's why it's very important for Singapore, and now Malaysia, to put in place comprehensive strategic direct-control systems."

In Singapore, a Strategic Goods Control permit is needed if one is exporting, trans-shipping or bringing in transit any goods or technology listed under the Strategic Goods Control Act. The Act has been in effect since January 2003.

"Singapore takes the proliferation of WMD, their means of delivery and related items very seriously," said Mr Fong Yong Kian, director-general of the Singapore Customs.

The government agency holds regular outreach programmes for the business community here to keep them abreast of export-control laws, he added.

Last year, more than $1.8 billion worth of strategic goods were exported from Singapore. The Singapore Customs received and processed more than 17,700 strategic-goods permit applications.

Malaysia's Strategic Goods Act will come into effect in July, making it the second country in the region to adopt comprehensive strategic-trade-control legislation.

The Philippines is in the process of reviewing draft strategic-trade legislation. Cambodia has adopted a law related to the non-proliferation of nuclear, bio- chemical and radioactive weapons, while Thailand and Vietnam are working on efforts to adopt national control lists.

The conference, held at the Raffles City Convention Centre, will end tomorrow.

By Rachel Chan,, my paper, Wed, May 25, 2011

PHOTO: Kardshian Kim and her boyfriend, Kardshian Riggi Bush

我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Spare parts: 零件 - líng jiàn
Dismantle: 拆除 - chāi chú
Trans-shipping: 转运 - zhuǎn yùn
Non-proliferation: 不扩散 - bú kuò sàn

PHOTO: Reggie bush saints wallpaper