Malaysia, US to talk on tighter nuclear checks
Malaysia will discuss tightening export controls with Washington's senior nuclear non-proliferation official.india Updated: Mar 04, 2004 14:08 IST
Malaysia, embroiled in a nuclear scandal involving the prime minister's son, will discuss tightening export controls on Tuesday with Washington's senior nuclear non-proliferation official.
The meeting between Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar and US Assistant Secretary John Stern Wolf comes just weeks after Malaysia released details of a nuclear parts and materials black market that included a local precision engineering firm.
Police said Sri Lankan businessman Buhary Syed Abu Tahir contracted for nuclear centrifuge parts from Scomi Precision Engineering (Scope), part of Scomi Group Bhd, controlled by the Malaysian leader's son Kamaluddin Abdullah.
Centrifuges can be used to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels but also have peaceful industrial applications.
US embassy spokesman Frank Whitaker said Wolf would encourage Malaysia's involvement in non-proliferation efforts under consideration at the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"He will certainly discuss with them also the proliferation security initiative and export controls," Whitaker said.
Malaysia is not part of the 33-nation Missile Technology Control Regime that prohibits trade in components that could be used for nuclear weapons programmes.
Neither Wolf, a former ambassador to Malaysia, nor Syed Hamid was scheduled to speak to news media.
Tahir told Malaysian police that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, arranged for enriched uranium to be sent to Libya and sold $3 million of nuclear centrifuge parts to Iran.
Although Khan had already confessed to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, the Tahir account added unprecedented detail.
US President George W Bush riled Malaysian leaders in February with a speech on weapons of mass destruction mentioning the country five times and describing Malaysian resident Tahir as deputy and chief money launderer to Khan's operations.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is widely expected to call his first general election within days, has been vague on whether Washington had sought or would be allowed access to Tahir, who has not been detained for any offence.
"It's a matter for the police. I'm not here to instruct what's to be done," he said last week.
Opposition politicians have also latched on to his son's role in the affair, although police have said neither Kamaluddin nor Scope was aware of the nature of what Tahir had ordered.
The United States and Malaysia, a majority Muslim country, have strong trade links but occasionally testy political relations, though ties have become publicly warmer since Abdullah took over last October from Mahathir Mohamad.
First Published: Mar 02, 2004 11:30 IST