The Next Nuclear Nightmare

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In July 2009, evidence emerged of North Korean involvement in Burma. The Guardian covered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s warning that there was evidence of military cooperation between North Korea and Burma. At the time, Clinton said:

We know that there are…growing concerns about military co-operation between North Korea and Burma, which we take very seriously…It would be devastating for the region. It would pose a direct threat to Burma’s neighbors.

Six months later, in Jan. 2010, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released a cautious, yet revealing, report stating that while there is no compelling evidence to backup the claim that Burma is working with North Korea to build nuclear weapons, more transparency is needed inside the country. While the document urges concern in making definitive judgments, North Korea’s unpredictable antics cause experts pause. Aside from the worries over North Korea’s potential assistance, the ISIS also warns that an inverse relationship may be occurring in which Burma may be assisting North Korea in the procurement of materials needed to increase nuclear capacity. Either way, the international community is becoming increasingly more wary of Burmese governance. According to the ISIS,

Because North Korea secretly sold a reactor to Syria, a sale which the world’s best intelligence agencies missed until late in the reactor’s construction, no one is willing to turn a blind eye to the possibility of North Korea selling nuclear equipment, materials, or facilities to Burma.

Following the January report, new evidence of nuclear aspirations has been steadily streaming out into the open. In April 2010, the U.K.’s The First Post wrote that “…there is mounting evidence that Burma’s military junta has its own nuclear weapons program.” The article reinforces worries that Burma may follow North Korea’s example and become the world’s next dreaded nuclear-capable rogue state.

Like Iran, Syria and other rogue nations, Burma has landed itself high on the Obama administration’s nuclear priorities list. In a U.S. State Department briefing on April 8, Phillip J. Crowley said that the United States, along with other concerned nations, is engaging Burma in search for a solution. “I think everybody has an interest in stability in the region, seeing Burma emerge from its isolation,” he said.

In June, the nonprofit Burmese media organization Democratic Voice of Burma offered further corroboration that Burma is pursuing nuclear weapons in a report titled, “Nuclear Related Activities in Burma.” In the May report, which was based on pictures and documentation taken by Maj Sai Thein Win, a former Burmese army official, it is written that, though Burma lacks the technological know-how, the nation appears to be intentionally working to refine and develop nuclear technology. The report concludes with high confidence that, “This technology is only for nuclear weapons and not for civilian use or nuclear power.”

With the clock ticking, the potential of a nuclear Burma is concerning both for the Southeast region and for the international community as a whole. North Korea’s involvement as an assistant or a benefactor in this scenario further complicates matters. With Crowley and other U.S. officials acknowledging an alleged nuclear program, while stating their desire for a more open and transparent regime, there is one fact all parties appear to agree on – a nuclear Burma will be an international threat that must be prevented and contained.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    Burma is just following the example of North Korea, which benefits mightily from its nuclear program and ballistic missile technology. Because the world's response to North Korea's challenge has been so tepid, the Burmese figure "why the hell not!"

    Of course, that tepidness is mostly the fault of China, a country that continues to run diplomatic interference for the North. Lo and behold, China is also the principle impediment to a successful isolation of Burma. But since China is the country that keeps America afloat due to its purchase of US Treasuries, there is nothing that can be done. The source of the problem is the disastrous trade posture we developed with China over the last two decades, when we 1) encouraged US corporations to invest in China and 2) demanded no reciprocity as year after year, China wracked up massive trade surpluses with us.

    And folks, when Burma finally gets "the bomb", expect it – like North Korea – to start proliferating for handsome profits. It will be the one real commodity Burma has that other parts of the world will covet, and a sure-fire means of enriching the Junta leaders beyond their wildest dreams. It will make today's monopoly they have in lumber and gems seem bush-league by comparison.

  • USMCSniper

    But President Obama promised he would elimnate all the nuclear weapons and we would have one world goverment and we would all live happily ever after with free health care and a home, because "Yes we can!! But bad old Iran and bad old North Korea won't listen.

  • Daniel L.

    Pay now or pay later. The heirs of Western materialism and capitalism, Europe and America, and its allies, can either stop sending their money to those nations that aid and protect rogue states, or prepare to suffer in the near future. That means focusing on trade. China is using its neighbors' militaristic impulses to expand their influence. The way they created a pipeline to Korea for Viet-nam in earlier wars, they are now protecting Burma, N. Korea, and Iran, creating a sure formula for endless warfare. ____Can any of these new rogue nations expect the world to believe they need atom bombs, cruise missiles, submarines, and million-man armies, to protect themselves from invasion? Does N. Korea fear invasion from S. Korea? Burma from Bangladesh? Is Iran threatened by invasion from an emaciated Iraq or Afghanistan? Did Libya need nuclear protection from Algeria? These are all power-addicted militaristic cultures where the people are but pawns to the growth of an imperialist instincts. Everything we buy from those countries, whether off the shelf at Walmart or at the gas pump, are a form of "blood diamonds." Capitalism and materialism can also be used as a weapon through focused denial.

  • Ben Rude Smith

    Some people are retarded—- keep saying over and over about Iran's nuclear weapons.

    Do Israel have nuclear weapons?
    I think they the israel do have nuclear weapons. Israel is a dangerous country because it has nuclear weapons, which it can destroy the whole Middle East. The United States gives yearly 3 billions aid to Israel. And Israel is using the money to build houses in Jerusalem and nuclear weapons. I think Israel don't want a Palestine country. I think Isreal want Palestine to be part of Israel.