Nuclear Matter
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, May 27, 2024


Nuclear Matter

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In this photo taken on July 29, North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun hits the great bell as he visits Burma's famed Shwedagon Pagoda. (Photo: AP)
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Kelley warns “that we should not underestimate Burma, especially if they get outside help.”

Speaking at Thailand's Foreign Correspondents Club recently, prior to the weekend revelations about North Korea, Kelley said of Burma's alleged nuclear weapons program: “There is no threat tomorrow, unless the DPRK, which has been helping, decides to do more. Or Pakistan, which has been selling nuclear secrets to anyone who will buy, decides to help.”

In a report published by ISIS in January, which Kelley and Albright co-authored, they said, "There remain legitimate reasons to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in Burma, particularly in the context of North Korean cooperation.”

ProPublica reported that the Norway-based organization is “a leading opposition group,” rather than a credible media outlet in its own right.

However, according to a spokesperson for Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF): “To be impartial is pretty hard for media,” but added that “of course, some of the exiled media have clearly a stand in favor of the pro-democracy movement.”

Prevented from operating commercially in their natural market, Burmese exile media groups such as DVB and The Irrawaddy are funded by a combination of philanthropic organizations, donor governments and agencies, as well as commercial media sales. In the eyes of RSF: “The fact that they (exiled Burmese media) are funded by some international donors is not really impacting their editorial line.” ProPublica itself is funded by a number of philanthropies, including the Sandler Foundation, The Ford Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

Burma is regarded as one of the least free media environments in the world, with a history of imposing lengthy jail terms on reporters caught sharing information with foreign or exile media, including DVB reporters. The exile media works closely with clandestine journalists inside Burma, seeking to bridge the information and news gap in the absence of Burmese alternatives that can operate without being curbed by the junta's censors.

Nine news journals in Rangoon were suspended on Monday for coverage of the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, while foreign journalists were barred from entering the country to cover the Nov. 7 elections. Amid widespread voter apathy and allegations of forced voting, advance voting and ballot stuffing, the regime proxy party took 76 percent of the vote. Before the election, “pro-engagement” voices propagated the view that the elections would open up some form of democratic space in Burma, even if they would not be free and fair.

Related article: “Security Council Gets NKorea Sanctions Report”; November 11, 2010;

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