Asia’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Flexes Its Muscles
covering burma and southeast asia
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Asia’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Flexes Its Muscles

By AUNG ZAW Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gen Shwe Mann (left) and Gen Kim Kyok-sik sign a memorandum of understanding at the defense ministry in Pyongyang.
(Page 2 of 2)

Historically, Burma has procured small arms, jet fighters and naval ships from the West, namely the US, Britain and some European countries, including Holland and Switzerland. But after brutally crushing the 1988 democracy uprising, it faced Western sanctions and Burmese leaders desperately looked for new sources of weapons and ammunition to modernize and upgrade its armed forces. Burma has bought jet fighters and naval ships from China but increasingly it’s looked for alternatives because of low quality and poor after-sale service

In the past, Burma purchased a “Pechora” air defense system—a Russian-made, surface-to-air, anti-aircraft system. Analysts say that Russians have provided technical training and language courses to Burmese technicians.

The junta continues to strengthen its military capacity and spends the country’s precious foreign reserves on more and more sophisticated weapons.

When Gen Maung Aye visited Moscow in April 2006, he told Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov that Burma wished to order more Russian-made MiG-29 jet fighters (in addition to the 12 it had already secured), as well as 12 secondhand MI-17 helicopters.

During the Moscow visit, the deputy chief of armed forces also expressed a desire to build a short-range guided missile system in central Burma with assistance from Russia.

Curiously, say analysts, Shwe Mann and his delegation also studied the subway system in the North Korean capital—in theory an underground subway is an effective way to deploy and mobilize troops during a conflict in an urban area.

As early as 2002-3, Burma begun to build underground tunnels and caves to hide and protect aircraft and weapons, as well as to house a central command and control facility. 

Foreign analysts note that Burma was humiliated when it lost serious military skirmishes with Thailand in 2001-2002. Thailand employed F-16 jet fighters along its border and successfully disrupted Burma’s communication system between its troops in the front line and its central command. 

The generals seem determined to go into the next field of battle with equal if not superior forces.

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peace Wrote:
How about the Thailand? Thailand possess F-16 Fighters, missiles and other sophisticated weapons. This also could easily lead to a tit-for-tat arms race in the region. Don't you think Thailand is also a threat to regional and global security? If you do, then all countries are threatening to world security.

Gary Wrote:
" No one will take you and 'The Irrawaddy' seriously"
Okkar, you're dead wrong. The junta's men are constantly on these webpages. I wonder why?

Pwa Gyi Wrote:
This is another story made up by Aung Zaw, who is deliberatly trying to link up the so-called nuclear-armed North Korea and the SPDC junta. It is, in fact, one of his theories cojured up during "day-dreams in exile".

The SPDC has been digging tunnels at different locations in the country since 1997-98. It has built-up its army through dealing with many countries, not just North Korea, but European countries through various brokers. Both North and South Korea have transported arms and ammunition to the SPDC many times.

Why does he write such story only now??

In fact, it is a simple attempt to divert the interest from many other hard news stories, such as the deteriorating situation of the remenant of KNU/KNLA and pro-democracy forces.

As a news agency, hopefully free from any attached strings, 'The Irrawaddy' should be more focused on news and journalism perspectives, rather than putting bias and day-dreaming theories to its readers.

Oparlay Wrote:
It is an interesting and serious story, but I am amused to read the comments, which reduces the seriousness of the issue. Some people sound really upset, which is interesting and amusing; some really praise with flowery words, which brings me laughter; and some are easy going, which I like the most. It's a good contest! I guess it is called freedom, but plesae don't take it personally.

SY Alam Wrote:
Do they think they can shoot down F16s & F17s with Korean made missile? Is this possible? People are hungry in Burma but they are buying SCUD missiles from N.Korea,are they crazy? Are they going to feed people mud and missiles? We don't need missiles , we need food.

KKK Wrote:
To j.s: I got these pictures from Okkar.
To Okkar: Whatever you said, we don't care. We will continue to support Irrawaddy. The whole world is behind the Irrawaddy. Articles on Irrawaddy are more reliable and credible than your generals's media. We can express our true emotions, feelings and thoughts on Irrawaddy. How many Burmese people can express their true feelings, emotions and thoughts on your father generals's media. You can't even express your true feelings on your general's media. Don't just argue, Okkar. Please argue well.

maungnaylin Wrote:
In my opinion, Myanma should buy more updated weapons to defend their fatherland from any foreign invaders. However, they need to save foreign currency for future use. it does not rain everyday; the sun is not always shining. Therefore, the Myanmar government should think before they spend their all money on buying the weapons. We should use this money for education, health and basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and power house to make electricity. Myanmar needs these investments to have stable growth. Without this investment, Myanmar cannot become a rice bowl. Furthermore, Myanmar should invest more in technology for long-term economic growth.

j.s Wrote:
Wow, where do those pictures come from? My hat off to The Irrawaddy.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
Arms buildups would not guarantee Than Shwe's security nor survival any more than hiding in his lair at Naypyidaw.
Even the mighty US is employing peaceful means to settle differences these days, knowing everlasting peace and security do not come from barrels of guns nor use of nuclear weapons.
Only peace guarantees today's humanity to survive and thrive.
Even China is pursuing a policy of peaceful co-existence though striving for world hegemony on its own, ganging up with rogues and thugs like Burma and elsewhere.
Arms and weapons do not make a nation great, a lesson that should serve notice to Than Shwe and his thugs also.
Than Shwe is nobody today because no sane person in his right senses likes or supports him.
Daw Suu is going global because not only the people of Burma but also the world love and support her today.
A people's love and adoration make a person great, like Daw Suu and leaders who need the people's support and trust, lest the monk murderer fails to take note today.

Matt Wrote:
Yes indeed, the Burmese junta seems to be digging in for the long haul. And as with the North Korean dictatorship they are propped up by the Communist materialist dictators in China.

Peter Hunt Wrote:
The intelligence info is probably correct. The regime initially was interested in a short-midrange SCUD missile factory from NK. Maybe they have changed their minds and just buy the ready-made missiles and air defense system. The NK air defense system was not fully tested, except the technology was from either Russia or China.
The question is, what are we going to do with this information?
There is no need for signing contracts between NK and Burma. Neither regime is trustworthy, anyway.

Missile Wrote:
Thanks for "Asia’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Flexes Its Muscles." That's got lots of knowledge. Thanks Irrawaddy. Hopefully, more comes soon.

Okkar Wrote:
I wonder how Aung Zaw come up with his crackpot "theory" of using subways to deploy troops to urban areas! If this "theory" has any credibility then why didn't Thailand use its subway system to quell the protests? Or, better yet, why didn't the US use its subway system to deploy national guards during the LA riots?

I understand Aung Zaw is trying hard to prove the link between the DPRK and the SPDC, but coming up with really outlandish "theories" not only undermines the credibility of his stories, but also reveals the real, intended motive of these articles.

As a journalist, Aung Zaw should at least have the dignity to remain credible. No one will take you and The Irrawaddy seriously if you keep coming up with absurd theories cooked up to support your claims.

Nelson Young Wrote:
Well done, Aung Zaw. I do really like most of your article. In this case, we can see clearly without compromise how dictators are seeing eye to eye to control the country. We Burmese people know how to eat rice day to day but not rockets or missiles.

planB Wrote:
Has the chicken finally come home to roost yet?
If it hasn't, it will.
Continue this present senseless policy and hasten the process.
Be afraid, be very afraid.
The SPDC do not need RMTD to acquire legitimacy.
Labeling one's country as 'Axis of Evil' will serve no practical purpose other than polarization within and ostracizing from without.
Has The Irrawaddy also given up on reconciliation?
If the purpose of this article is anything other than making the West aware of the necessary seriousness of dealing with the SPDC than it serves the intended purpose.
Otherwise, another round of SOS by anti-SPDC opinionated will ensue and the future will be sooner than predicted.
No redeeming value whatsoever to the suffering citizenry, however.

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