The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]

Burma's Deputy Defense Minister Skips Security Summit
By SAW YAN NAING Saturday, June 5, 2010

Burmese Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Aye Myint was absent from the 9th annual Shangri La Dialogue, an Asia-Pacific security summit held in Singapore on June 4-6.

The summit brings together defense ministers, academics and security experts to discuss Asia-Pacific security issues, including weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons and humanitarian and disaster relief.

Aye Myint's absence came as fresh evidence of Burma's nascent nuclear weapons program was revealed in a documentary aired on the Doha-based Al Jazeera television network on Friday.

Observers said he may have stayed away from the meeting to avoid being questioned about Burma's nuclear program.

“If someone asked him about it, he would have had to say something,” said Chan Htun, a former Burmese ambassador to China. “That's probably why he didn't show up.”

Burma's ambassador to Singapore, Win Myint, was present at the summit.

One of the issues raised at the summit on Friday was the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, which Seoul says was torpedoed by North Korea on March 26.

South Korea President Lee Myung-bak asked the UN Security Council to take action against North Korea over the attack.

According to Dr Zarni, a Burmese academic who attended the summit, Lee also mentioned a bomb attack that targeted a South Korean delegation visiting Rangoon in 1983. The attack, carried out by North Korean agents, killed 17 people.

Lee did not, however, mention North Korea's current military assistance to Burma.

A UN report last month said that North Korea is exporting nuclear and ballistic missile technology and using multiple intermediaries, shell companies and overseas criminal networks to circumvent UN sanctions.

The report said its research indicates that Pyongyang is involved in banned nuclear and ballistic weapons activities in Iran, Syria and Burma.

Related stories:

Evidence Points to Burma's Nuclear Weapons 'Intent'

Burma's Nuclear Ambitions 'Threaten Regional Security'

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