Thailand announces new curbs on ‘dual-use’ exports
In keeping with Thailand’s record of supporting measures to bolster global security, the Ministry of Commerce announced last week that it has added 1,230 items to its list of exports subject to special control measures because they are ‘dual use’, meaning they could be used in making arms or weapons aside from the use for which they were manufactured.
The move is in line with Thailand’s commitments to fight weapons proliferation, transnational crime and terrorism. Thailand pledged it would work more closely with the United States on these and other security issues when President Barack Obama visited Bangkok in 2012.
The list announced by Minister of commerce Apiradi Tantrapron includes electronics, electrical appliances, computers, plastic, molded rubber, mechanical machines and certain other manufactured materials. Companies that want to export items on the list need to register with government agencies and obtain permission to ship the items abroad.
The new regulations will take effect on January 1, 2018. The grace period gives exporters time to prepare and conform to rules and regulations and to seek help from the ministry should the bans negatively affect their business.
The English-language The Nation newspaper reported in 2010 that “quite often illegal transport of components and parts of weapons of mass destruction pass through Thailand undetected.” The country’s geographical position linking South and Northeast Asia, and its heavy commercial trade traffic make it vulnerable to the smuggling of weapons and components.
That same year, Thai officials intercepted an arms shipment from North Korea at Don Muang airport in Bangkok. A decade before that, the seizure of cesium-137 in the northeastern province of Surin sent alarm bells ringing among officials. Cesium-137 is an isotope used in medical and industrial equipment, but is also used nuclear weapons to trigger the fission of uranium-235, the essential bomb material.
Among the specific items on the list are carbon fibers normally used in producing sports equipment like tennis racquets, which can be turned into missile components; phosphorus compounds normally used for fertilizers, which can be used in bombs; and ricin normally used in bio-diesel production, which can be used to produce biological weapon.
The list also includes laser equipment normally used for material cutting, which can be used in bombs. Maraging steel used to produce golf club heads is also classified as a dual use as it can be used to enrich uranium, Apiradi said.
Thailand Focus, Week of October 13, 2015
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