Is Burma working on a nuclear weapon???
Are they trying to join the axis of evil???
Burma is working on a nuclear weapons programme, experts have concluded, after its existence was exposed by leaked photographs.
Intelligence monitoring of the country’s arms purchases from North Korea has been intensified as a result.
Satellite tracking and electronic surveillance in particular have been stepped up. Concerns over the regime’s attempts to develop a nuclear bomb prompted the US State Department to demand last week that the ruling junta disclose an inventory of its nuclear technology.
Secret documents and hundreds of photographs smuggled out of the country by a defector indicated that it was intent on developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Jane’s Intelligence Review published a separate batch of photographs showing similar activities in buildings and behind security fences near the capital, Naypyidaw.
Fears that Burma had joined a clandestine nuclear network linking North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and Syria have been growing for some time, but there has not been hard evidence until now.
Sai Thein Win, the defector, is an army major who trained as a defence engineer and missile expert.
He said he had access to two secret nuclear facilities, including a “nuclear battalion” north of Mandalay, “charged with building up a nuclear weapons capability”.
Robert Kelley, an American former senior weapons inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the evidence was the most compelling yet.
The photographs, which were passed to the Democratic Voice of Burma, part of the Burmese opposition, showed components built with German machine tools imported through Singapore, which Mr Kelley believed indicated “nefarious purposes”.
They included a fluidised bed reactor which is used to turn a powdered form of uranium into a gas which can then be enriched to weapons grade. “They are either trying to make reactor fuel which they could buy for nothing from another country, or they are trying to make a weapon clandestinely,” said Mr Kelley.
“There is just not much point doing that unless it is for a bomb.”
Intelligence agencies are seeking to provide the IAEA with proof of a clandestine programme in the hope of a formal inquiry. Regular shipments of rocket platforms and missile technology between North Korea and Burma, as well as other clandestine links, are under scrutiny.
“There are strong suspicions over the contents of shipments, including a delivery of rockets within the last month,” said one international nuclear expert.