Cambodia could receive $233,000 as part of this month’s agreement with the US government to destroy 233 surface-to-air missiles, according to a letter written by US Ambassador Charles Ray.
Ray told Prime Minister Hun Sen in the Dec 19 letter that the money would come from the US State Department’s Small Arms/Light Weapons Destruction Program and would be used “to improve physical security and stockpile management that would be implemented through contractors.”
Ray met with Hun Sen on Dec 15 to discuss terrorism and the recommendations of a State Department-led team that traveled here earlier this month to assess weapon supplies.
The next day, the government announced the agreement to destroy the A-72 missiles—supplied by the Soviet Union in the 1980s—and unveiled the US offer to send “experts” to help with the destruction.
“By providing your team with such a high level of transparency and complete access to your stocks during the visit, the RCAF enhanced the team’s ability to accurately assess the condition of the stocks and determine the type of US assistance that can be provided,” Ray wrote.
The letter stated that a follow-up team of experts from the US Department of Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency could be sent here to do further evaluations. Ray cautioned that the $233,000 still must be approved by the US Congress but could be available by the end of January.
“We are poor,” said RCAF General Lay Bun Song, a Ministry of Defense official in charge of foreign affairs.
“All assistance is useful and helps our work go ahead,” he said.
The US has increased its efforts to keep portable surface-to-air missiles off the black market in the wake of the November 2002 terrorist attack on a civilian airliner in Kenya, Ray wrote.
Reports from the Thai government in early October claimed that surface-to-air missiles had been trafficked into Thailand from an unnamed neighboring country.