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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. to launch program to screen containers in Kaohsiung port

ROC Central News Agency

2009/11/17 19:31:39

By Rachel Chan

Taipei, Nov. 17 (CNA) The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will hold an opening ceremony on Wednesday to officially launch the Megaports Initiative in which cargo at southern Taiwan's Port of Kaohsiung will be screened to prevent the smuggling of material used to make weapons of mass destruction.

In cooperation with international partners, the program enhances participating ports' capability to screen containerized cargo for nuclear and other radioactive materials that could potentially be exploited by terrorists to make a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) or radiological dispersal device, the AIT said in a press release Tuesday.

"Under the Megaports initiative, partners are provided with radiation portal monitors, related handheld detection devices, optical character recognition (OCR) technology, communications equipment, training, and technical support for key ports," it added.

The AIT and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2006 to implement the Megaports Initiative in Taiwan's Port of Kaohsiung due to its strategic location, role as a key transshipment point and the port's high volume, according to the AIT.

Since 2007, the DOE, through the AIT, has been working to equip the port with radiation detection equipment, as well as providing training to Taiwanese officials on how to operate and maintain the radiation detection system, and raising awareness among terminal operators of the potential danger of these materials.

In close cooperation with the Port of Kaohsiung stakeholders, the goal is to outfit the port with radiation detection monitors (RPM's) which will screen over 95 percent of all container traffic, according to the AIT.

AIT Director William A. Stanton, Taiwan's Deputy Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ho and Elly Melamed, Deputy Director of the Office of Second Line of Defense in the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration are scheduled to attend the opening ceremony, the AIT said.

Meanwhile, the AIT will open on Wednesday its second "American Corner" in Taiwan, located at the Bao Chu Branch of the Kaohsiung Public Library.

The Kaohsiung American Corner will feature books, pamphlets and DVDs about American culture and society and will play host to American speaker programs and cultural activities.

It will serve to provide an abundant source of information about all things American to residents in Kaohsiung, as well as a regular English-language storytelling program for young people.

The Corner also features an online program which connects students in Kaohsiung with advisors in Taipei who can answer questions about studying in the U.S.

Recognizing the outstanding cooperation from the Kaohsiung Public Library, the AIT has decided to upgrade the original "American Shelf" to the Kaohsiung American Corner, thus joining Taiwan's other American Corner in the central city of Taichung, which was established in 2006.

According to the AIT, a total of 393 cities around the world host the growing network of American Corners.

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