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Singapore Attempts to Prevent Smuggling Weapons of Mass Destruction - 2002-06-13


Singapore and the United States will work together to develop a system to deter the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction between ports. Singapore will be the first country in Asia to adopt new counter-terrorism measures in cooperation with the United States.

Singapore and U.S. Customs officials will draw up a strategy for identifying and inspecting shipping containers in Singapore ports that are destined for the United States.

Singapore is one of the world's busiest cargo ports and ships tens of thousands of containers to the United States each year.

The more stringent inspections are aimed at blocking terrorists from smuggling explosives or weapons of mass destruction that could be used to attack Singapore or other countries.

A spokesman from the Singapore Transport Ministry says that while U.S. Customs officials will soon be stationed in the country, Singapore Customs officers will do the actual screening of the containers at local ports.

The Customs and Excise Department plans to acquire X-ray machines to expedite the screening of containers.

Electronic seals will be used to mark and secure inspected containers. Any tampering with the seals will be noticeable.

In the meantime, more stringent checks are being carried out at all passenger and cargo entry points at Singapore ports. The Transport Ministry spokesman said security agencies in Singapore are working closely with their counterparts in other countries to combat crime and terrorism.

The Transport Ministry said it aims to make sure the enhanced inspections will not slow container handling in the Singapore ports. The ministry says tighter security will boost Singapore's standing as a secure port for container shipment. In addition, the spokesman said, containers that pass inspection here will enjoy faster clearance in the United States.