Burma-North Korea Ties Worry the World
By ANDREW SELTH Wednesday, May 19, 2010


For the past 10 years, Burma has been accused of trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. A number of developments during this period—notably Burma’s growing relationship with North Korea—have raised international concerns. Yet, to date, no hard evidence of such a plan has been produced.

Claims of a secret nuclear weapons program date back to 2000, when Burma’s military government announced that it was going to purchase a small research reactor from Russia. These accusations were repeated in 2003, when it was suggested by a respected news magazine that North Korea had taken over from Russia as the source of Burma’s nuclear technology. In the years that followed, the issue resurfaced periodically on activist Web sites, but in August 2009 it attracted global attention when a story appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald citing Australia National University professor Des Ball and the Thai-based journalist Phil Thornton.

The SMH claimed that there were in fact two nuclear projects running in Burma. The first was the Russian research center, which was to be operated under international safeguards. (Contrary to the SMH story, construction of this reactor has not yet begun). The second was said to be a secret project to build a reactor and associated nuclear fuel processing plants with North Korean help. According to the SMH, if all went according to plan Burma would have a nuclear weapon by 2014 and “a handful” of such devices by 2020. The main sources for these claims were two Burmese “defectors” and commercial satellite imagery of suspect facilities in Burma.

Needless to say, such claims have been the subject of close scrutiny by the United States and other governments. There have also been comprehensive studies of the issue by think tanks like the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

The US government has expressed its concern about the defense ties that appear to have developed between Burma and North Korea over the past decade. These links reportedly include the sale of conventional arms to Burma, North Korean help with the development of Burma’s defense infrastructure (including the construction of various underground facilities), assistance to Burma’s arms industries and training in fields like air defense. In 2004, the US blocked the sale of North Korean short-range ballistic missiles to Burma.

The Obama administration has also stated its wish to discuss a number of proliferation issues with Burma, including the possible transfer of nuclear technology from North Korea. Significantly, however, at no time has the US government stated that Burma is attempting to develop a nuclear weapon, with or without North Korean help. Indeed, despite considerable pressure from members of Congress, activists and journalists, Washington has refused to be drawn on the subject. Its position seems to reflect either a belief that Burma does not have a secret nuclear weapons program, or a lack of hard evidence to support such a claim.

This approach has been shared by other countries, including Britain and Australia, both of which have referred only to “unconfirmed” reports of a secret nuclear program. For their part, the IISS and ISIS have both stated that there is insufficient evidence to support the claims. The IISS, for example, said in late 2009 that Burma “has no known capabilities that would lend themselves to a nuclear weapons program.”

Even so, both governments and think tanks remain suspicious of Burma’s intentions, and point to a number of factors which they believe warrant continuing close attention.

Of all Southeast Asian countries, Burma has the strongest strategic rationale for a nuclear weapons program. Since the abortive pro-democracy uprising in 1988, the military government has feared armed intervention by the United States and its allies. The regime has also suffered from economic sanctions and other punitive measures. Burma’s generals envy North Korea’s ability to resist such pressures and still win concessions from the international community. They reportedly believe that this influence derives from Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons.

In addition, Burma has for some years been working closely with two North Korean trading entities that have a record of proliferating sensitive nuclear and missile technologies. Also, Burma has imported a number of sophisticated machines and items of dual-use equipment from Europe and Japan that could conceivably be used in a nuclear program. The number of Burmese sent to Russia for nuclear-related training seems to be more than that required for a peaceful research program. Furthermore, some of the claims made by the “defectors” are plausible.

None of these factors in themselves prove that Burma has embarked on a nuclear weapons program.

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KKK Wrote:
To Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF:
Who is your foolish King? Than Shwe's son?

Tide Wrote:
The world, in particular developing countries, have always been worried about big guys (the Western bloc).

Democracy is meant to be for free and fair deals, and the big guys are using this term just to simply "bully" non-big guys in many forms.

So ANDREW SELTH - tell the big guys not to worry and bully less.

timothy Wrote:
The US administration has no interest in Burma. Burma is owned by Red China and America owns Baghdad, Afghanistan and Tehran. China must stay away from America`s interest so that he will respect China`s interest. There is an unspoken understanding among the superpower giants. It is real bad news for oppressed in Burma. America is not a champion of democracy and they do pretend to be friend of oppressed by giving nice lip service to which Than Shwe laugh all the way to his banks in Singapore where billions of stolen dollars are kept. Besides, UN chief had to beg superpower to be re-elected as UN Sec. Gen and he is just a puppet of all superpowers. Than Shwe knew very much about it.

tocharian Wrote:
On his infamous vist to N. Korea last year, Thura Shwe Mann had to go through China (also on his way back!), so the junta has the full backing of Peking to deal with Kim Jung-Il. So what's the US gonna do? Obama doesn't dare to complain to China directly. The paukphaws are clever aren't they?

timothy Wrote:
Burma's military is now preparing for the next generation leaders of generals to take over power from Than Shwe who is well over retired age. He will die soon from natural illness, if he is lucky.
The most likely scenario is he will be kept under arrest by the new generals when he gets old.
History will repeat itself. Ex-General Ne Win died under captivity by Gen Than Shwe. To avoid a repeat of history and to protect his family, Than Shwe must give the new generals the nuclear shield and himself to become the status of Moa-Tze-Tung and Ho-Chi-Min.
The great leader of bigger than life God status is what Than Shwe needs so that he can die in peace with dignity. When he dies, new generals will worship him for centuries. Burma is definitely getting the nuclear capabilility to alarm the UN, USA and western democracies. Currently these countries are busy with economic downturn. One day, military dictatorship will strike the USA in its heart. Watch my warning here. I am no prophet but I am seeing the very sad story.

Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF Wrote:
We would like to share a saying with you; we heard it from our king HM King Shwebomin II. Our King said:" I used to commute to Nicosia, Cyprus, from London every month whilst I was chief of the projects - building an hotel and holiday villas in northern Cyprus. (That part of Cyprus was split from the rest of the island as 'Turkish Cyprus' after the 1974 Turkish invasion.) There is a Greek saying that if you treat a stranger as a friend, he will become your firend."
So does it not imply that if you treat a stranger as enemy, he will become one?

"Of all Southeast Asian countries, Burma has the strongest strategic rationale for a nuclear weapons program."
WHO SAID THAT AND WHY? The allegations are utterly evil. Burma needs to develop her economy, increase expenditure on health and education, and now 'they' are trying to push Burma into the nuclear so-called axis of evil.

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