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Burma's exiled ethnic nationalities seminar held in North America

Commentary
The Burmese Regime Has Nuclear Weapons
 
(By Kanbawza Win)
 
For an average Burmese, this news of the Burmese Military Junta acquiring nuclear weapons came to no surprise. The very fact that one of the most impoverish countries spending billions of dollars on arms for several decades and bold enough to defy the civilize norms of international community and the United Nations itself is an authentic proof that it has this secret weapons to defend itself. What more, its rhetoric against the United States and the European Union challenging their sanctions and adopting a haughty attitude is an authentic proof that she has a big neighbourly brother to rely upon.
 
After Iran and North Korea , the next suspect is Burma , and President George Bush is expected to talk to the India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the sideline meeting at UNGA. When Keith Lucie, head of the Asian Committee of the Congress asked the Burmese ambassador in Washington DC , the reply was for medical purpose. Knowing full well that "lying the very concept of truth" is the standard norm of the Junta, nobody believes them. Preparations for a nuclear bomb are kept top secret in all undemocratic countries and one must recollect that Iran has acquired the nuclear facility under the umbrella of peaceful purpose. Obviously the Junta is afraid of outside intervention for its gross human rights violations and anti democratic attitude.
 
Over one and a half decades, the military regime has had closer relation not only with China but also with Pakistan and now it has become an American concern. It is also a known fact that Pakistan nuclear scientist Khan has congenial relation with the Junta and is the very guy who is selling nuclear secrets to other regimes and has made several trips to Burma .
 
The country has clearly become a next rouge terrorism state with nuclear capability. Recent speeches by senior army officers suggest that Rangoon 's ambitions to overhaul its military hardware are as strong as ever. Studies by the US Defense Intelligence Agency have concluded that Burma has also acquired a few medium range delivery systems. To be candid the missiles story has been around since 1983, when it emerged that Burma was establishing a chemicals plant that were later used to develop offensive weapons for use against the ethnic nationalities. Artillery shells and balloons containing chemical agents have been used in 1993-95 attacks against KNU. In 1993 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an outbreak of intestinal illness among Karen villagers was due to the balloons attached to meteorological radiosondes and parachutes had been recovered nearby. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials told US congressional hearings in 1988 and 1991 that Burma already posses a chemical-weapons program, and a 1992 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) survey reported that Rangoon had "chemical weapons and artillery for delivering chemical agents".
 
The Junta had started looking in the early 1990s for surface-to-air missiles capable of carrying chemicals and North Korea and China have helped set up the chemicals stockpile. It must be remember that North Korea launched a chemical-weapons program in the 1960s, and by 1995, it had the largest chemical-weapons capability in Asia , according to the DIA study, "Worldwide Chemical Warfare Threat Current and Projected", which identified the main agents as blister, blood and nerve toxins. Hence anecdotal evidence from Karen villagers suggests that the Junta army used a blister agent against the ethnic nationalities, which would constitute a breach of the Geneva Conventions on treatment of civilians and combatants. But Rangoon is not a signatory to the conventions. In addition to the blister agent, three other chemical agents have been used, including a mild incapacant and a phosphorus shells.
 
The US State Department told the House of Representatives International Relations Committee on March 25 said that there was "reason to believe" North Korea had offered Myanmar Scud surface-to-surface missiles and assistant secretary of state Matthew Daley confirmed this. As a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Burma is banned from developing nuclear weapons but can operate a reactor for peaceful purposes under safeguards laid down by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But we should also bear in mind that the Chinese do not look at the East in the same terms as the West and surely the Junta e have a limited technological capacity for running nuclear power stations and a crude nuclear bomb;
 
The 15 April 2004 issues of the “Far Eastern Economic Review” states that nuclear "weapons-related issues" in Burma ". The issue of co-operation between the two pariah states was addressed March 19 during a meeting of officials, including representatives from the intelligence community, National Security Council and State Department. U.S. officials believe North Korea has offered Myanmar surface-to surface missiles going beyond multiple rocket launchers, with a range of more than 100 miles. The Scud missiles could have Weapon of Mass Destruction capabilities and are within striking distance of Bangkok .  In November 2003 the SawbwaGyi-Gone Christian Cemetery in Insein near the Rangoon Airport was bulldozed to establish a missile base while thirty-five Burma Army officers, some of them army engineers were sent to North Korea for weapons-related training.
 
Keith Luse, in his April 9 speech at the Heritage Foundation, asserted that “special attention must be provided to the growing relationship between Burma and North Korea,” However, the Burmese embassy official denied Luse’s charges, saying “there is no truth in statements indicating Myanmar is acquiring assistance in nuclear technology” from North Korea and pointing out that Rangoon does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. The statement from the Myanmar Information Committee web site, Rangoon “has no desire” to develop nuclear weapons, but “has the right to develop nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes.” In his 2002 statement, U Khin Maung Win the ousted Deputy Foreign Minister has indicated that Burma is pursuing a nuclear research reactor to produce radioisotopes for medical purposes and to “train our young scientists and engineers.” Additionally, a Burmese Atomic Energy Department employee’s presentation to a 2003 conference in Japan states that “nuclear power introduction [is] desirable for [the] long term” and Rangoon “should consider small” 100-400 megawatt reactors, perhaps to be introduced around 2025. Burma has also signed the Treaty of Bangkok, which established a nuclear-weapons free zone in Southeast Asia when it entered into force in 1997.  The Central Intelligence Agency has not publicly expressed any concerns about Burma and nuclear or missile-related activities but at the same time the CIA report does mention North Korea’s exports of ballistic missiles and related components to other countries—a longstanding US concern.
 
The changing of the foreign minister in face of ASEM, refusing to accept the UN representative Razali Ismail, belittling the punitive sanctions of the American and the European Union tantamount to, what we Burmese say, "Longyi Hlan Pya" meaning showing one's penis to the international community, the most a rudest and the crudest gesture from an Asian perspective. Even at the UNGA its representative U Tin Win flatly lied when he said," Allegations of human rights violations in Myanmar [ Burma ] are aimed at discrediting the government for political purposes." While at the same time they are sore afraid to let Professor Pinherio into the country, lest their lie may be caught red handed.
 
The utterance that "The future of the nation cannot be determined by one individual or one party acting alone" indicates that they do not recognise any person mandated by the people of Burma and is again the very grain of democracy. Yet it was paradoxical to hear their rhetoric that they were building up democracy.  The Junta continue to lie claiming that they have the support of the ethnic nationalities and yet they have not ink a single peace deal, but the most sinister aspect was that while they were talking cease-fire with the KNU have launch a major military operations against them. It is a pity that the Generals could not comprehend that their actions speak louder than words. It seems that the international community's endeavour through non- violent ways and putting reasons into the Generals rational has past and now it is time to wield a big stick which they ask for.
 
Vancouver
 
(The views express here are solely the opinion of the author. (Kao Wao’s Editor)

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