Extra! Korea

March 3, 2010

Growing military ties between Burma and N. Korea concerns White House

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 2:17 pm

The Obama administration is reportedly concerned over Burma’s deepening military relationship with North Korea.

“The lesson here is the Syrian one,” said David Albright, president of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security and an expert on nuclear proliferation. “That was such a massive intelligence failure. You can’t be sure that North Korea isn’t doing it someplace else. The U.S. government can’t afford to be blindsided again.”

The concerns center around the sales of small arms, missile components, and possibly even nuclear-weapons-related technology.

“The lesson here is the Syrian one,” said David Albright, president of the non-governmental Institute for Science and International Security and an expert on nuclear proliferation. “That was such a massive intelligence failure. You can’t be sure that North Korea isn’t doing it someplace else. The U.S. government can’t afford to be blindsided again.”

[ snip ]

In a report Albright co-wrote in January titled “Burma: A Nuclear Wannabe,” he outlined the case for concern about Burma’s relations with North Korea. First, Burma has already signed a deal with Russia for the supply of a 10-megawatt thermal research reactor, although no construction of the research center had started as of September 2009. Second, although there are many unverified claims from dissident groups about covert nuclear sites in Burma, the report said “there remain legitimate reasons to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in Burma, particularly in the context of North Korean cooperation.”

The report noted that the same company that aided the Syrians in constructing their nuclear facility is active in Burma. The company, Namchongang Trading (NCG), is sanctioned by U.N. Security Council. It is unclear what exactly NCG is doing in Burma, the report said, but its presence there “is bound to increase suspicions about such a sale.”

In June 2009, Japanese authorities cracked a case that involved the sale of a magnetometer and other sensitive equipment that could be used to develop or manufacture nuclear weapons — from a Beijing-based North Korean trading company to Burma.

Finally, the senior U.S. official noted that starting about eight years ago, a large number of Burmese students were going to Russia to study in nuclear-related fields. “It’s not just dozens, it’s hundreds,” he said.

It seems that the Burmese want what North Korea has –the ability to thumb its nose at the world’s remaining superpower.

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