EU Boosts Cambodia’s Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction

The European Union (E.U.) on Wednesday signed an agreement with the government to provide Cambodia with radiation detection equipment and counterterrorism technology to detect illicit trafficking or criminal use of nuclear and radiological materials at the country’s border checkpoints.

E.U. Ambassador to Cambodia Jean Francois Cautain and Om Yentieng, vice-chairman of the Secretariat of National Counter-Terrorism Committee, signed off on the deal that will see radiation detection equipment and alarm communication systems installed at the New River Port in Phnom Penh and both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports.

“I am very pleased that Cambodia is committed to protecting its borders from the threats of weap­ons of mass destruction [WMDs]—the E.U. is committed to a safe and secure world and the presence of WMDs are the biggest threat to the E.U,’s security,” Mr. Cautain said.

“They are global threats with long-term consequences for trade, public health and global security and given the transnational nature of these threats we need to have cooperation across national borders,” he said, adding that equipment training will be provided.

Mr. Cautin stressed that as far as he was aware, Cambodia has not yet experienced any attempts to transport radioactive material across its borders but stressed that the advent of the Asean Community in 2015 emphasized the importance of regional cooperation against such threats, and the E.U. has similar agreements in all countries in the region.

The E.U. agreement is complimentary to the U.S. Megaports Initiative, which works with international customs and port authorities to enhance major seaports with detection capabilities for nuclear and other radioactive materials hidden in containerized cargo for transit around the global maritime shipping network.

In 2011, the U.S. installed a radioactive scanner worth $6 million at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and provided funding to train staff and its use through 2015, when the port will be able to take over the complete operation, Mr. Yentieng said Wednesday.

“In fact, terrorism is not a problem for Cambodia and I guarantee that the country is not a target for terrorists, but there is a lot of interest in this for embassies and Western tourists who are guests and so as the owner of the house, the government must protect them against terrorists,” he said.

“It is important we prevent terrorists from thinking that Cambodia is a paradise that they can hold secret meetings in and make plans to carry out attacks in other countries,” Mr. Yentieng said, adding that the government needed to crackdown on guesthouses that permit guests to stay without showing identification documents since these are the places terrorists stay.

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