Singapore joins US Megaports Initiative

Updated On: Mar 15, 2005

Singapore-Singaporehas become the seventh country to take part in the US Megaports Initiative, designed to prevent the illegal shipment of nuclear material that could be used to make the so-called “dirty bombs”.

Under an agreement signed between the two countries on March 10, every shipping container unloaded atSingapore’s Pasir Panjang container terminal will be scanned for nuclear and radioactive materials.

The detector, which is expected to be operational in six months' time, will be installed and maintained by theUSgovernment but operated bySingapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at Pasir Panjang.

The sensor resembles a gate and can pick up the smallest signs of radiation as loaded container trucks drive through it. If a radiation alarm sounds, the container can be checked using the port's other scanners, which can “see” through metal shipping containers using X-rays or Gamma rays.

ICAcommissioner, Mr Lock Wai Han, said: “Singaporeshares a mutual interest with theUnited Statesand the international community in preventing the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.

“Our participation in the programme will further enhance the reputation ofSingapore's port as a safe port of call and a major trading hub in the region.”

Currently, the detectors are operating inGreeceand theNetherlands, whichare also taking part in the US Megaports Initiative. TheUShopes another 30 nations, with a total of 50 ports, will also sign.

TheUSambassador toSingapore, Mr Franklin Lavin, said the deployment of the radiation sensor would send a “clear message” to terrorists.

“There will be no safe havens inSingaporefor the smuggling of nuclear or radioactive material,” he added.

*Radiation detectors for S'pore port (The Straits Times, March 11)