Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM again hits at US as bomb removal planned



PM again hits at US as bomb removal planned

CMAC officials place a tent yesterday around an undetonated 1970s-era CS gas bomb on the grounds of a school in Svay Reing province.
CMAC officials place a tent yesterday around an undetonated 1970s-era CS gas bomb on the grounds of a school in Svay Reing province. Photo supplied

PM again hits at US as bomb removal planned

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) will begin removal next week of two chemical bombs found in Svay Rieng in January, as Prime Minister Hun Sen again took aim yesterday at the United States for allegedly not shouldering the burden of its war legacy.

In response, the US Embassy said it had not received any requests to remove the ordnance in Svay Rieng province.

Speaking at a university graduation yesterday, Hun Sen referred to the unexploded American tear gas bombs as “weapons of mass destruction”.

A day after demanding that the US take back its Vietnam War-era bombs, the prime minister said in his speech that he doesn’t expect America will comply with his request.

“I asked the US to take them back. But wait until death, the US will not come,” he said.

The bombs were found by CMAC in January near a pagoda and on a school campus in Svay Rieng’s Romeas Hek district. They contain a substance known as CS, a type of tear gas.

“We have not received any requests from the [Royal Cambodian Government] to assist in removing this ordnance . . . We are happy to consider any requests for additional assistance, if asked,” said US Embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes, adding that the US has already provided “extensive training” for such situations. “We have no objection if CMAC were to use some of the $2 million we provide annually to take care of this ordnance.”

Hun Sen said thousands of locals would have to be evacuated during the removal and students would have to temporarily stop studying.

“I have recommended to use the special national budget . . . These are the chemical weapons, which is a weapon of mass destruction. It was used as an excuse to accuse Saddam Hussein and deploy troops,” Hun Sen said. Tear gas is generally classified as nonlethal.

Heng Ratana, director of CMAC, said that his organisation and the National Authority for Chemical Weapons (NACW) will inspect the area today, and begin removal Monday.“The technical aspect, we can do it,” Ratana said.

Ke Da, the deputy general secretary of the NACW, said the authorities were not yet sure how long removal would take. “We need to dig, but we cannot use an excavator. I cannot make a conclusion. It depends on the geography,” he said.

Sar Hun, 63, a resident living about 2 kilometres from the bomb site, welcomed news of its removal but he said villagers were not yet aware of the plan or the need to evacuate.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from