SINGAPORE: `The use of WMD by terrorists would result in untold catastrophic consequences`
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee «View Bio
Remarks by Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador of Singapore, at the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Second Anniversary Event at the Department of State, May 31, 2005
In the past few years, the United States has advanced three very important `I`s on global security - the CSI, PSI and RMSI [Container Security Initiative, Proliferation Security Initiative and Regional Maritime Security Initiative]. Singapore is a strong supporter of these `I`s. They are distinct but yet closely related initiatives. Together, they provide a comprehensive framework to deal with WMD proliferation and threats against the global movement of people, goods and services. Of the three, I would say PSI is the most action-oriented and requires the greatest amount of coordination among participating nations.
The PSI objectives are consistent with Singapore`s commitment to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). We strongly believe that our participation in PSI is important, given the threat of global terrorism and the dangerous possibility of WMD falling into the hands of terrorists and other undesirable elements. We know this is not a far-fetch possibility. For a small city-state like Singapore, any use of WMD by terrorists on us would result in untold catastrophic consequences beyond what we saw on 9/11.
Since December 2003, Singapore has participated actively in various PSI-related exercises. We officially joined the PSI Core Group at the 5th PSI Plenary Meeting in Lisbon from 4 to 5 Mar 2004.
We have learned many important lessons through various exercises. Specifically, on 1 Apr 2004, Singapore Customs participated in a telecommunication exercise organised by German Customs during Exercise Hawkeye. The exercise involved a simulation whereby Germany passed on information regarding a suspected shipment transiting from Germany to Singapore. Singapore was requested to identify and take follow up action on the shipment in question. The exercise provided an opportunity to test the communication channels across international agencies. The exercise was also meaningful for Singapore Customs as it tested the co-ordination mechanism among our agencies.
We also participated in:
Exercise Clever Sentinel, the maritime interdiction exercise from 21 to 22 Apr 2004 held at the Augusta Naval Base;
Exercise APSE04, the simulated air interception exercise led by France from 23 to 24 Jun 2004;
Team Samurai, the maritime interdiction exercise held in Japan from 25-27 Oct 2004;
and NINFA, the maritime interdiction exercise organised by Portugal from 13-14 April 2005.
These exercises were extremely helpful in establishing standard operating procedures among our domestic and international agencies. This will greatly enhance our ability to act quickly and efficiently when troubles come. On our part, Singapore will be hosting Exercise Deep Sabre, a maritime-based interdiction exercise from 15 to 19 August 2005. We believe that a maritime interdiction exercise would be of greatest relevance to our region. Some of the world`s most important shipping lanes and trade routes straddle archipelagic Southeast Asia. Singapore is also one of the world`s busiest ports with some 18 million containers passing through our port each year.
Many countries in Southeast Asia have yet to embrace the PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Principles. We have invited several of them to attend the Exercise Deep Sabre which we are hosting. We hope this first-hand experience of how an actual PSI operation will take place will help allay their concerns about the legal and operational aspects of the PSI and bring them on board.
Besides the invitation, Singapore has also approached some of our ASEAN neighbours to share our experience on the PSI and in countering proliferation. We have offered to send relevant experts to provide more detailed briefings if there are questions or an interest on the part of these countries. The regional countries generally are appreciative and supportive of the broad objective of countering WMD proliferation, given the current international and regional environment. However, they have indicated that they would need some time to sort out the legal and operational details in their inter-agency processes.
Looking ahead, Singapore will continue to explore constructive ways to engage these regional neighbours on the PSI. We will participate actively in future PSI meetings and where possible in other PSI exercises. We will not stop also to monitor the implementation of export controls, and take steps to enhance the effectiveness of these systems where necessary.
In conclusion, I would stress that counter-proliferation is one of Singapore`s core national security interests. We have actively set up various national measures and systems, and participated in useful multilateral initiatives. And we will continue to do so. Thank you.