Closer Burma-N Korea Ties a Serious Cause for Concern
By YENI Monday, June 29, 2009


Recent evidence of the closer relationship between Burma and North Korea exposes the complete failure of the Burmese regime’s diplomacy and foreign policy in the face of increasing pressure by international and regional governments.

With Burma losing face internationally and regionally since the ruling junta put Aung San Suu Kyi’s on trial, the Burmese generals are anxious for their traditional ally to stand by their side.

The relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) deteriorated when Thailand, as current Asean chair, issued a public statement in May on Suu Kyi's trial, saying the "honor and credibility" of its troublesome member, Burma, was "at stake."

Moreover, Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, whose country is one of Burma's biggest foreign investors and has close relations with the Burmese junta, said bluntly that the general election planned for 2010 must be inclusive and that the opposition National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, must be part of the process of national reconciliation.

Goh, chairman of the city state’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, also said that Singapore investors will likely wait until after the election before pouring any more money into the country.

Although it is too early to say that closer ties with North Korea could be a response to assertions on Burma by the Asean members, it is clear that recent developments have greatly added to worries that the two pariah states are becoming a double threat to regional security.

The mysterious voyage of the North Korean cargo ship, the Kang Nam 1, which is believed to be heading for Burma, and is currently being shadowed by the US Navy, and the leaking of documents and video footage showing caves and tunnels being constructed in Burma with the help of North Korean engineers, have raised suspicions in the region that the facilities are connected to Burmese plans for a nuclear reactor.

Some analysts said that fears about the acquisition of unconventional weapons by Burma are not totally unfounded. "Given North Korea's nuclear trade to Syria, its attempts to sell Scuds to Myanmar [Burma], and its ongoing sales of conventional arms, there's reason to be worried about a WMD relationship," Michael Green, a Burma expert and former adviser to then-President George W Bush told the Wall Street Journal recently.

For several years, the Burmese junta has been trying to foster relations with countries which are antagonistic towards the US—especially North Korea, which has constructed 8,200 underground facilities, including 180 munitions factories, to house key government offices and military command posts in case of war.

Observers say that the Burmese ruling generals take a hostile approach to the US because of its economic sanctions and have become paranoid about a possible US invasion of their country. These are the main reasons for speeding up a reengagement with North Korea.

In 1983, North Korean spies operating in Burma planted a bomb at the Martyr’s Mausoleum in Rangoon, where the country's forefathers lie, killing 18 South Korean officials, including four ministers.

Burma broke all ties with North Korea as a result. However, in its anxiety to procure the arms and technology to develop its armed forces, the Burmese regime later resumed diplomatic ties without securing any apology from North Korea.

Although it is not yet clear whether the tunneling projects in and around Napyidaw are to afford the paranoid junta protection from its own people or from the outside world, it proved again that the top Burmese generals have dug themselves deeper into isolation over the past few years.

The generals' bunker-mentality has been in place since 1962 when they took power from Burma's last democratically-elected government. Burma always defends itself as a sovereign state, surrounded by friendly neighboring countries that seek Burma’s natural resources, but sanctioned by Western countries led by the US. In fact, the junta usually uses that as a shield behind which it can continue its human rights violations, confident that its neighbors will treat them as Burma’s "internal affair."

Now Burma shows its true colors by developing ties with North Korea, one of the world’s most treacherous countries, which threatens to unleash a nuclear war.
So it is not too early to say that the closer relationship developing between Burma and North Korea should alert the world to a state of affairs that can only deepen global and regional tensions.

Please read our policy before you post comments. Click here
E-mail:   (Your e-mail will not be published.)
You have characters left.
Word Verification: captcha Type the characters you see in the picture.

Moe Aung Wrote:
Third World dictators who have been supported by the US have treated their own people no better historically. Ne Win was assisted by the Germans and Israelis,and he rubbed shoulders with British royalty, some of whom had been great fans of Hitler in his early years before it all turned sour.

The blanket sanctions have had little impact on Chevron/Total's projects, which are a major money spinner for the junta, but the ban on Burmese gemstones plus the junta's search for uranium in the area has ruined Mogok.

The Burmese nation must fight their own battles, not just metaphorically but literally. We must rely on ourselves and stop waiting for the Great White Saviours. The latter can still help with arms and funds if they really are our friends in need once the myriad peoples of Burma have united and are standing up for themselves.

In 1988,there was no unity and no interim government for the international community as well as a significant part of the Tatmadaw to recognzie and support.

Maung Maung Wrote:
These so called Tatmadaw's cronies just keep blaming others. They blame communists, they blame insurgents, they blame political parties, they blame anyone who ever exposes their stupidities. They dare not admit their failure in handling state affairs since 1962. It is stupid to believe that SPDC has to approach North Korea because of action by the USA. What action has there been? Targeted sanctions? Nuts!

U Kyaw Thar Wrote:
There has to be more complex and critical thinking. It is not just the Burmese military looking to achieve closer ties with governments critical of the united states, it is also very much the result of actions by the united states forcing the Tatmadaw to approach the countries they do.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
Than Shwe has decided to go "underground" out of fear of Daw Suu and her people. Moving to his hideout at Naypyidaw proved the fact, fear of backlash—for killing people and Buddhist monks—from the people.
Than Shwe's decision to gang up with the North Korean despot certain augurs ill not only for the security of the region but also the world.
The fact is North Korea wants uranium from Burma in return for arms and nuclear technology, as the military maniac has decided to go nuclear all the way until doomsday, trust me.
The monk murderer is still dumb and oblivious to the fact that only Daw Suu and her people can guarantee his safety, not nuclear weapons nor hiding in the labyrinth of tunnels helped dug by North Koreans.
Best bet for him is to work out things with Daw Suu and her people and claim a plot for himself to rest in peace and his family as well.
Now or never is the choice for the monk murderer.
And now is the best time as ever.
In case the monk murderer is clever.

KKK Wrote:
I am wondering why ASEAN countries say nothing about the Burma-N Korea relationship.

plan B Wrote:
Ko Yeni,
A reasonable take on the present evolving events. Care to suggest how this problem of the SPDC pulling ever closer to NK can be derailed?
Vehemently accusing the SPDC of wishing to have nukes definitely is not the answer.

More Articles in This Section

bullet Sizing Up an Icon

bullet Fighting Corruption Begins at Home

bullet Future of Exiled Burmese Media

bullet How Much Freedom Does Burmese Media Enjoy?

bullet Five Days in Burma

bullet Turning Burma into Next Asian Tiger No Simple Task

bullet With Suu Kyi On Board, Is Burma Finally Moving Toward Real Change?

bullet The ‘Rule of Law’ in Burma

bullet New Doors are Opening in Burma

bullet A Good Beginning to the New Year

Thailand Hotels
Bangkok Hotels
China Hotels
India Hotels


Home |News |Regional |Business |Opinion |Multimedia |Special Feature |Interview |Magazine |Burmese Elections 2010 |Archives |Research
Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved.