`Myanmar could be close to testing nuke bomb`

Myanmar`s military junta may be just a few years from testing its first atomic bomb, reports said.

Updated: Aug 01, 2009, 14:07 PM IST

Melbourne: As world concerns remain focused
on the clandestine nuclear programme of North Korea and Iran,
reports are filtering in of Myanmar`s isolated military junta
may be just a few years from testing its first atomic bomb.

The key far-eastern nation is building a secret nuclear
reactor and plutonium extraction facilities with North Korea`s
help, Sydney Morning Herald has reported citing two key junta
The Myanmarese military has sited the reactor in mountain
caves inter-linked by deep tunnels at Naung Laing in Northern
part of the country, apparently to camouflage it from
detection by satellites.

The secret complex, the paper said, runs parallel to a
civilian reactor being built at another site by Russia that
both the Moscow and Yangon authorities say will be put under
international safeguards.

The revelations by the Australian Daily come as US Naval
Warships recently shadowed a North Korean commercial vessel
bound for Myanmar, suspecting it to be carrying contraband
nuclear and missile components. However, the ship was not

China and other Asian nations had helped persuade Myanmar
to turn back the North Korean freighter, the Nam Kam 1. A
month back Japanese police arrested a North Korean and two of
its own nationals allegedly trying to export illegally to
Myanmar magnetic measuring device that could be used to
develop missiles.

The Hearld identified the two defectors as an officer
with a Myanmar army`s secret nuclear battalion and the other a
former executive and leading regime business partner, Htoo
Trading, who handled nuclear contracts with Russia and North

It said the defectors were extensively interviewed
separately over the past two years by Australian strategic
experts and a Thai-based Australian journalist.

The defectors testimony brings into sharp focus, hints
and sightings emerging recently of North Korean delegations
visiting Myanmar, the paper said.

Washington, the report said, is increasingly concerned
that Myanmar is the main nuclear proliferation threat from
North Korea, after Israel destroyed in September 2007 a
reactor that North Koreans were apparently building in Syria.

It said that one of the defectors was picked up by the US
intelligence agencies last year. Some weeks later Myanmar
protested to Thai about overflights made by US drones across
its territory.

The key to clandestine nuclear cooperation between
Myanmar and North Korea could be because of Pyongyong`s eye on
securing supply of uranium from Yangon`s proven huge reserves
and earning hard currency, the Herald said.

Bureau Report