Rogue Brothers in Arms
covering burma and southeast asia
Sunday, June 16, 2024


Rogue Brothers in Arms

By WAI MOE JULY, 2010 - VOLUME 18 NO.7

(Page 3 of 3)

But the DVB report said that while North Korea may be involved in missile proliferation, there is no new evidence to suggest it is helping Burma to develop nuclear weapons.

“None of our evidence implies that North Korea has anything to do directly with evidence that we think points to a nuclear program,” Fowle said.

Admiral Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific command, told Reuters he was unaware of specific instances of nuclear cooperation between the two states, but was “certainly concerned about the relationship between North Korea and Burma given our [the US’s] lack of visibility in both regimes.”

Speaking before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January 2005, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice described Burma and North Korea as two of the world’s “outposts of tyranny.” But in a globalized world, there is no such thing as an outpost, and it seems that Than Shwe may be using Rice’s designation of certain countries as “pariah states” as a road map to unite the rogue nations of the world.

Than Shwe may be a long way from developing a nuclear weapon, but his other long-standing dream of countering Burma’s pro-democracy forces and the United States and it allies by establishing close relationships with enemies of the West, beginning with North Korea, has never been closer to reality than it is today. 

For a detailed background account of Burma-North Korea relations by Wai Moe, go to

Burma-North Korea Chronology

1983—Burma breaks diplomatic relations with North Korea after North Korean agents attempt to assassinate the South Korean president on Burmese soil.

1992—Burma and North Korea secretly re-establish diplomatic ties.

1992 to 2006—Burmese junta keeps renewed ties with North Korea secret because it is working to establish relationships with Japanese and South Korean businesses.

2007—The junta publicly resumes diplomatic relations with North Korea.

2008—The junta’s No 3, Gen Shwe Mann, visits North Korea and signs a memorandum of understanding, officially formalizing military cooperation between Burma and North Korea.

2009—Desmond Ball releases a report based on information provided by Burmese defectors that says Burma established a “nuclear battalion” in 2000 and is building a nuclear reactor.

June 2009—a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam, is diverted from going to Burma after being trailed by the US navy.

April 2010—another North Korean ship, the Chong Gen, docks in Burma carrying suspicious cargo, allegedly in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1874, which restricts North Korea from arms deals and from trading in technology that could be used for nuclear weapons.

May 2010—UN panel says in a report that Pyongyang is involved in banned nuclear and ballistic activities in Burma

June 2010—The Democratic Voice of Burma issues a report based on extensive evidence provided by a Burmese defector that says the junta is attempting to produce nuclear weapons

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