Arms Imported Over New Year?
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Arms Imported Over New Year?

By WAI MOE Monday, May 10, 2010


Secrecy normally shrouds military relations between Burma and its strategic allies such as China and North Korea, but intelligence sources suggest ongoing military ties with these two countries are helping the Burmese generals’ to achieve their military ambitions, including that of becoming a nuclear power.

Intelligence sources said top junta generals have held late-night meetings in Naypyidaw in the last two months, discussing military modernization, foreign relations, tension with ethnic groups and suppressing dissidents in urban areas.

They said the junta bought weapons from China and North Korea including mid-range missiles and rocket launchers in April, and suggested the war office in Naypyidaw chose the month when the Burmese celebrate new year in order to avoid public scrutiny.

Equipment necessary to build a nuclear capability was reportedly among imported military  supplies from North Korea that arrived at the beginning of the holidays.

A report from Rangoon in April also referred to an undisclosed vessel believed to be connected with North Korea that was seen at Thilawar Port, near Rangoon. Burmese officials at the time said the vessel was there to load Burmese rice destined for North Korea.

Military relations between Naypyidaw and Pyongyang have been attracting attention from analysts, diplomats and journalists in recent years. In August 2009, an article in Sydney Morning Herald alleged the Burmese junta aims to get an atomic bomb in five years using Burmese enriched uranium and North Korean nuclear technology.

Apart from nuclear know-how and equipment, Pyongyang has also provided the Burmese junta's armed forces with truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles and technology for underground warfare since the early 2000s, according to experts on Burma's military like Andrew Selth. 

“Pyongyang needs Burmese primary products, which Naypyidaw can in turn use to barter for North Korea arms, expertise and technology,” wrote Andrew Selth in the Australian Journal of International Affairs in March.

Sources based on the Sino-Burmese border said a military convoy traveled from China’s Yunnan Province to central Burma in April. However, they did not report seeing any heavy weapons on military trucks crossing the border.  

“In the last 20 years, the Burmese junta have only used the border route to import smaller military equipment and military vehicles, not heavy weapons including missiles and tanks,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese military observer based on the Sino-Burmese border. “Most of the heavy weapons from China or other countries arrive in Burma by sea and air.”

Following the 1988 coup, China has become the closest strategic ally for the Burmese junta, who have depended on Chinese weaponry for modernizing their armed forces.

Writing in an academic paper in 2009, China experts Li Chenyang and Lye Liang Fook, said  China has actively pursued military and security cooperation with the junta since 1988.

They said military ties are foremost in the sale of weapons and military training. Military equipment includes missiles, fighter planes, warships, tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and radar.

Although China opposes Burma developing chemical, biological, nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, it has not objected to Burma buying such material from other countries, they said.

But some observers think Beijing is the key for North Korean-Burmese ties as it is the only country which has good relations with both states.

“The Chinese are like brokers in Naypyidaw’s relationship with Pyongyang. We should remember that recent trips by Burmese generals to North Korea have been via China,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw. “Since 1988, China has been the junta’s main strategic partner.”  

To balance their dependency on China in recent years, the Burmese junta also purchased weapons and military equipment from other countries such as India, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.

A state-run-newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar,  reported on Monday that Chief of Military Ordnance, Lt-Gen Tin Aye, attended a reception at the Russian Embassy in Rangoon on Sunday, marking the 65th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War over Nazi Germany.

Tin Aye is familiar with officials from China, North Korea and Russia as he has traveled to these countries to purchase weapons.

The US government is taking a keen interest in Burma’s secretive relations with North Korea, meanwhile. US officials such as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell, have voiced concern, saying the US is closely watching ties between Burma and North Korea.

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aung naing moe Wrote:
I agree with Mr. John. What I'd like to request the today's patriotic members of Myanmar Army to stage a second anti-facist wars against a handful of Than Shwe and his followers and their cronies. Only the patriotic soldiers within Tatmadaw can save our country from the bullies like Than Shwe, Maung Aye, Thein Sein, Tin Aung Myint Oo, and others. We are looking forward seeing genuine martyrs from Tatmadaw to save the country.

Rod Power Wrote:
If there was a war now between Thailand's 350,000 soldiers and Burma's 550,000 standing army including child soldiers... Thailand would still win.

That will all change within 40 months ...Burma and China will be the new champion and pave the way through South East Asia...history repeating as far as Im concerned the Thai's should attack General Than Swhe and his army before it is to late ... At all cost protect the God King of Thailand.

john eichler Wrote:
The U.S. is closely watching ties between Burma and N. Korea. Campbell said he will focus on "strategic dialogue". So what! What does all this mean? Nothing at all.
It seems to me that everyone is "closely watching" Burma's slow descent into hell.
When the diplomats think they see a light at the end of the tunnel in Burma, they are all kidding themselves. Nothing is going to happen until the Burmese, with the help of the Tatmadaw, take back their own country.

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