Saturday, December 11, 2010

Burma's nuclear plans exposed by WikiLeaks

  • Cables detail "suspicious events" 
  • Australian ambassador involved 
  • North Koreans working in Burma
BURMA is believed to be building a secret nuclear program with the help of North Korea, in a move that could pose a major threat to regional stability.

Classified US government documents released by WikiLeaks disclose a series of suspicious events in Burma since 2004 that indicate a clandestine joint military program with the maverick nuclear-armed North Korean regime, reported The Australian.

The documents reveal that the US embassy in Canberra was told in November last year "something is certainly happening" in relation to military and possibly nuclear co-operation between the two dictatorships.

One cable refers to Australia's ambassador to Burma, Michelle Chan, trying to verify the accuracy of a report she received that the regimes of Kim Jong-il and Than Shwe were "engaged in peaceful nuclear co-operation". Another cable said that a source in the Burmese military government had said General Shwe had visited North Korea in 2008.

The disclosures have fuelled fears that North Korea is providing direct technical and physical assistance to Burma's military regime to help it develop a nuclear weapons program that could alter the balance of power in the region.

They will intensify international condemnation of Pyongyang, which has been accused of selling nuclear technology to Iran and this year torpedoed a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors.

Last month, it launched an artillery barrage on a South Korean island, killing four people.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the government shared international concerns about Burmese authorities taking steps towards the development of a nuclear weapons capability, and urged Rangoon to abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The US cables report the construction of suspicious underground military facilities alongside the construction of an unusually large airstrip, as well as suspected shipments of uranium from Burma to China.

A 2004 classified US cable reports: "North Korean workers are reportedly assembling surface-to-air missiles and constructing an underground facility at a Burmese military site about 315 miles (500km) north-northwest of Rangoon. Some 300 North Koreans are working on (the) secret construction site.

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