Cablegate: Singapore Hosts Eu-Asean Meeting Regarding Chemical,

DE RUEHGP #1168/01 3420804
R 080804Z DEC 09



Dept for ISN/ECC Rachel Owen

E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The European Union (EU) hosted a one-day
conference in Singapore on November 23 regarding its outreach to
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address potential
chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats and
an EU proposal to establish a CBRN Center of Excellence (COE) in
ASEAN. Representatives from the European Commission led the meeting
with officials from nine ASEAN countries. Each ASEAN member
outlined their current efforts to address CBRN threats and areas
where they could benefit from foreign assistance and capacity
building. The EU explained its COE proposal but appeared to be
seeking consensus from ASEAN to decide when, where and how the first
phase of establishing a COE should begin. Movement forward on
establishing a COE will likely be slow until an ASEAN member steps
forward to lead such an initiative. End Summary.

EU Hosts ASEAN CBRN Meeting in Singapore

2. (SBU) The European Union (EU) held a meeting in Singapore on
November 23 with nine Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
members to share the outcomes from recent EU visits to the region
and discuss a proposed chemical, biological, radiological, and
nuclear (CBRN) Center of Excellence (COE) for Asia. Officials from
the European Commission (EC) led the meeting and were joined by
officials from supporting organizations like UN Interregional Crime
and Justice Research (UNICRI). Participants included approximately
23 representatives from ASEAN member countries, except Brunei,
representing a range of agencies and ministries from their
governments that are responsible for health, nuclear, environmental
and security issues. Emboffs from Singapore, the regional EXBS
Advisor from Kuala Lumpur, and an officer from the U.S. Department
of Energy joined the meeting as observers.

EU's Vision for a Regional Center of Excellence
--------------------------------------------- --

3. (SBU) The EU representatives acknowledged the need to expand
CBRN response capabilities in Southeast Asia and proposed creating a
related Center of Excellence (COE) and knowledge-sharing network for
the region. The geographic location of the COE is still to be
determined, but the EU hopes to set the concept in motion in 2010.
There are no plans for dedicated "brick and mortar" facilities.
Instead, the functions of the COE would be accomplished through
existing facilities in ASEAN. The EU anticipates that the rollout
of programs to address each area (i.e., chemical, biological,
radiological, and nuclear) would be done in phases. The first phase
would likely focus on biological threats because the EU would like
to tap the existing programs and momentum already in place in ASEAN.
Nuclear safety would probably come at a much later phase. UNICRI
itself or UNICRI's Joint Research Center would be the implementer
for the COE.

4. (SBU) The EU has the authority to fund a COE through its
Instrument for Stability, which includes mandates to address global
and trans-regional threats. The EU has approximately 25-30 million
euros to fund a CBRN Center of Excellence, but the EU
representatives indicated that it would dedicate 5 million euros in
the first phase of such an initiative. It was not clear whether
that money would be used to fund more than one COE. The EU has
plans to target other regions besides Southeast Asia, such as the
Middle East and sub-regions of Africa.

Potential International Support

5. (SBU) The EU stated in its presentations that the United States,
Japan and Australia have expressed interest in supporting the COE
concept and some funding may already be available through
complementary programs run by various donor governments. However,
participation, or lack of participation, at the November 23 meeting
reflected some of the implementation and coordination challenges
that exist with such a multilateral program in ASEAN. Japan sent a
letter of support to the EU for the meeting on 23 November, but
could not send a representative to the meeting, according to an EC
official. Likewise, the EU invited the ASEAN Secretariat, but the
Secretariat did not have the manpower to send a participant.
According to EC official Philippe Van Amersfoort, ASEAN has many
donors but there is no tracking or coordination among the donors to
find ways to initiate complementary programs. This lack of donor
coordination is problematic when trying to determine proper support
for efforts like the COE, he added.

ASEAN Member CBRN Activities and Needs

6. (SBU) Each of the ASEAN members, including Burma, made

SINGAPORE 00001168 002 OF 002

presentations or brief remarks on aspects of their CBRN-response
systems and outlined areas where they require more outside
assistance. Singapore described their Security Sensitive Materials
(SSM) task force which is an interagency body headed by the
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Singapore has
established protocols to prevent or isolate any potential CBRN
incident. For example, trucks carrying hazardous materials can only
enter at one land checkpoint and can only travel in certain zones of
the city-state. Malaysia described its infectious disease response
efforts, which have included establishing a biosafety committee and
building a mobile biosafety level 3 laboratory. Cambodia noted that
while it needs assistance in building capacity to respond to CBRN
threats, it also still requires assistance dealing with light arms
trade. Burma did not make a presentation, but officials from the
Department of Atomic Energy in the Ministry of Science and
Technology said that their access to technology to deal with CBRN
incidents is limited so they require help with capacity building and
hope to learn from an EU-ASEAN partnership on how to respond to CBRN

7. (SBU) Each ASEAN member, including the most economically
advanced countries, suggested at least one area where they see value
from added CBRN capacity building in the region. The participants
were generally supportive of the EU COE idea. However, no ASEAN
member stepped forward to offer to host a COE and there was little
discussion of how, in practical terms, such a COE and network might
begin to build on existing bilateral or regional programs. The
November 23 meeting provided a useful outline of the EU proposal,
but progress on the COE was not substantially advanced at the
meeting and will likely continue to be slow.

8. (U) Regional EXBS Advisor Mike McNamara cleared this message.


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