The National Assembly opened debate yesterday on a law prohibiting nuclear, biological, radioactive and chemical weapons, approving nearly half of the law in the first four hours of debate.
Lawmakers voted to approve the opening six chapters and 17 articles of the 13-chapter, 32 article law. Approved sections of the code prohibit the manufacture, possession, use and transport of such weapons, although it clearly states that chemical, biological and radioactive substances will be allowed for use in “the health sector, industry, mines, energy, agriculture, research, and in the pursuit of peace.”
Cheam Yeap, CPP lawmaker and chairman of the Assembly’s finance, banking and audit commission, said during debate that the law was necessary for the peaceful development of Cambodia.
“We do not want to see the world destroyed by chemical, nuclear, biological and radioactive weapons,” he said.
Before discussion opened, SRP lawmaker Son Chhay expressed his hope that agricultural chemicals would not be unduly restricted under the new law.
“I think that we should have prevention measures, not prohibition,” he said, adding that research using radioactive materials should be closely monitored.
During debate, fellow SRP member Kimsour Phirith asked that the use of nuclear substances be completely prohibited, even for research purposes. “I do not want these substances in our country…to prevent suffering in the future,” he said.
However, Minister of Defense and government representative Tea Banh said that he hopes to see Cambodia develop nuclear power in the near future; officials said last year that the government is aiming to see the country’s first nuclear power plant by 2020.
“Nuclear power is important for developing the country’s economy,” Mr Banh said.
The draft law also gives the newly created National Authority for Chemical Substances broadly defined powers to regulate and inspect chemicals to prevent development of weapons. Mr Banh said yesterday that the members of the authority are drawn from various ministries, including Justice, Interior, Defense, Industry and Agriculture, among others.