DPRK Myanmar military relationship growing

According to the Washington Post:

The Obama administration, concerned that Burma is expanding its military relationship with North Korea, has launched an aggressive campaign to persuade Burma’s junta to stop buying North Korean military technology, U.S. officials said.

Concerns about the relationship — which encompass the sale of small arms, missile components and technology possibly related to nuclear weapons — in part prompted the Obama administration in October to end the George W. Bush-era policy of isolating the military junta, said a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Senior U.S. officials have since had four meetings with their Burmese counterparts, with a fifth expected soon. “Our most decisive interactions have been around North Korea,” the official said. “We’ve been very clear to Burma. We’ll see over time if it’s been heard.”

Underlining the administration’s concerns about Burma is a desire to avoid a repeat of events that unfolded in Syria in 2007. North Korea is thought to have helped Syria secretly build a nuclear reactor there capable of producing plutonium. The facility was reportedly only weeks or months away from being functional when Israeli warplanes bombed it in September of that year.

“The lesson here is the Syrian one,” said David Albright, president of the nongovernmental 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.”

Burma is thought to have started a military relationship with North Korea in 2007. But with the passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution last June banning all weapons exports from North Korea, Burma has emerged “as a much bigger player than it was,” the senior U.S. official said.

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 signed a deal with Russia for the supply of a 10-megawatt thermal research reactor, although construction of the facility had not started as of September.

Second, although many claims from dissident groups about covert nuclear sites in Burma are still unverified, the report said that “there remain legitimate reasons to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in Burma, particularly in the context of North Korean cooperation.”

Previous posts about the Myanmar-DPRK relationship can be found here

Read the full story here:
U.S. increasingly wary as Burma deepens military relationship with North Korea
Washington Post
John Pomfret


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