Asia Briefs: Huge plutonium cache bound for US by ship

Huge plutonium cache bound for US by ship

TOKYO • An armed nuclear transport vessel preparing to ship a huge cache of plutonium to the United States arrived at a Japanese port yesterday amid tight security, local media said.

The stockpile in Japan, provided by the US, Britain and France decades ago for research purposes - and which is enough to produce 50 nuclear bombs - is being returned to the US as part of a bilateral storage deal.


Taiwan accuses China of 'pressure' diplomacy

TAIPEI • Taiwan's top security agency said yesterday that China's move to set up diplomatic ties with one of the island's former African allies was meant to put pressure on President- elect Tsai Ing-wen to "fall in line" before her inauguration on May 20.

China resumed ties with the small West African state of Gambia last week, ending an unofficial diplomatic truce between China and Taiwan following landslide wins in presidential and parliamentary elections by Ms Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

Gambia was one of only a few African countries, along with Burkina Faso, Swaziland and Sao Tome and Príncipe, to recognise Taiwan, which China regards as a wayward province to be recovered by force if necessary.


Dolphins under threat as coal ship capsizes

DHAKA • Bangladesh has banned boats from sailing through a key south-western river after a ship loaded with coal capsized, threatening the sanctuaries of rare dolphins in the world's largest mangrove forest.

The authorities imposed the ban yesterday after the ship carrying over 1,000 tonnes of coal sank in the Shela river last Saturday, raising fears for two sanctuaries of endangered Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins and the delicate ecology of the Sundarbans forest.


China looks at building railway into Nepal

BEIJING • China agreed yesterday to consider building a railway into Nepal and to start a feasibility study for a free trade agreement with the impoverished, landlocked country, which has been trying to lessen its dependence on its big neighbour to the south, India.

China and Nepal signed a total of 10 agreements, including on the feasibility plan, as well a concessional loan for a new airport in Nepal's Pokhara, and a feasibility study for oil and gas survey projects.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2016, with the headline 'Asia Briefs'. Print Edition | Subscribe