Myanmar was considering going nuclear in 2004: WikiLeaks

An Indian diplomat told US official Myanmar sought US attention on Pak lines.

Updated: Dec 17, 2010, 16:42 PM IST

Washington: A globally isolated military regime in Myanmar was considering whether it should "go nuclear" to get US attention on Pakistan`s lines, an Indian diplomat had told American officials in 2004, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

Asserting that more sanctions would not serve any purpose other than further isolating the regime, the Indian diplomat said the best way forward was to constructively engage with it.

In a meeting with US embassy officials, the Joint Secretary, South East Asia, Mitra Vashishta reiterated India`s belief that only constructive engagement of the military regime could bring about any meaningful change, saying sanctions have only isolated the country, and have not encouraged democratic reforms there.

"Burma is so isolated that members of Than Shwe`s delegation wondered whether they would have to `go nuclear` to get US attention,” she remarked, noting the comparison to Pakistan.

"She emphasised that if India also isolates Burma, no one will be able to engage Rangoon on democracy or other issues," the cable said.

According to the cable, the Indian diplomat argued that the United Nations "has lost credibility" in the eyes of developing countries and should at least make an attempt to be more "pro-Myanmar”.

The EU is too "obvious, shabby, short-sighted and full of contradictions" to play a meaningful role in Burma, she argued, while Thailand takes a pro-active approach to Yangon only "because one of their ministers wants to be the next UN Secretary General," it said.

Another leaked cable from the US embassy in Yangon, released by WikiLeaks earlier this month, showed that the US has suspected a secret nuclear programme in Myanmar for many years, and the possibility of it being supported by North Korea.

Expressing concern about Chinese influence in Myanmar, Vashishta said that its State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has been "learning from the master about how to hoodwink the international community" on human rights.

"She said that China would like an Indian Ocean port and hopes to project its influence `everywhere India does`," it said.

Vashishta argued that "what you hear about the PLA (People`s Liberation Army) in Burma is only the tip of the iceberg," as US intelligence must know.

She asserted that Myanmar`s engagement with India stems in part from Yangon`s belief that "China takes them for granted”, the cable said.

PTI