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Singapore Mulls Steps to Ratify Nuclear Security Pact

Singapore is considering updates to its laws that would enable the country to join a treaty on protecting nuclear materials from theft, Today reports.

The bill -- introduced days before Singapore is set to host the annual Shangri-La regional security forum -- would allow the Southeast Asian nation to join the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, as well as a 2005 amendment expanding on the original pact, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The original treaty sets standards for securing international shipments of civilian nuclear material, while the 2005 update would apply similar measures for the domestic use and transfer of nonmilitary atomic substances.

"We are small and densely populated. Any nuclear or radiological incident would be a major disaster, perhaps an existential one," Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in March, when he announced plans to bring Singapore into line with the atomic pacts.

"We are also an international hub -- our economy, trade and security can easily be affected by a nuclear accident elsewhere," he added at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands.

The measure he proposed this week would amend Singapore's Radiation Protection Act to outlaw any use of atomic substances to kill or injure a person, or to inflict significant harm to property.

It would also render illegal any threat to steal nuclear material as a means of blackmail, according to the newspaper. The legislation would permit extradition of suspected nuclear offenders, and enable authorities to prosecute individuals for alleged atomic violations carried out overseas.

In addition, the measure would increase from two to five years the maximum penalty for illegally transferring or holding nuclear material.

The original physical-protection treaty had 149 member nations as of December. The amendment, which has yet to take effect, as of last month had 75 member nations; the United States has yet to ratify the newer provision.

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