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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        22  March 2011

Malaysia may be weapons transit point

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Malaysia is probably an illicit transit point for parts used in weapons of mass destruction, the home minister was quoted as saying Tuesday after police seized suspected weapons equipment.

"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," home minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper.

Police said last week they had asked the country's nuclear agency for a report on parts seized from a ship bound for western Asia.

A local newspaperhad reported that authorities impounded two containers of "parts of an equipment believed used to make weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warhead" in early March from a Malaysian-registered ship.

The dismantled equipment was seized at Port Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur, from the ship after it arrived from China, that report said.

The parts were among items subject to controlled and restricted sale by the UN Security Council and under international law, it said, adding that captain and crew were questioned before being allowed to leave port with their vessel.

Hishammuddin, who oversees domestic security, said that Malaysia had now sought the assistance of foreign experts to examine the seized parts, according to the Star.

Last April, Premier Najib Razak said Malaysia would strictly enforce a new law to curb trafficking of nuclear weapons components after being linked with the illegal supply of sensitive technology to Iran and Libya.

The Strategic Trade Bill provides for prison terms of at least five years and fines.

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