Written by U Ne Oo on 2004-05-27
Last year the United States, Great Britain and Australian governments illegally invaded Iraq with the pretext of Saddam regime having certain programs of "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Nowadays, these governments are hiding their head in the sand for not having found any trace of WMD within Iraq. If it is not for oil, is there any justifiable reason left for the US and its "Coalition of Killings" invading Iraq ? Are these three government prepare to punish any rouge regimes when the threat of proliferating nuclear or any forms of WMD ?
Perhaps, the Burmese military junta's nuclear program has been falling at the blind spot of these governments. Cynically, of course, we can argue all day about why US and the Coalition of Killings -- no, no, not the oil -- justified invading Iraq (let save this debate for other days). Here's a much more profoundly puzzling question about Burma's nuclear program.
Burmese junta suddenly got interest in nuclear technology (1999) soon after the Pakistanis rocked the world with their first Nuclear Bomb in 1998. Supposedly, the nuclear program/reactor is for use with medical research and developments. In late 2001, Far Eastern Economic Review reported 300 Burmese nuclear technicians were trained in Russia for handling the reactor.
In early 2003, the Democratic Voice of Burma reported the proposed nuclear research facility (reactor) is located at "Kalagok Kyun (Island)" in Mon State. Local population there confirmed the confiscation of few hundred acres of land from farmers for this nuclear project to go ahead.
Here is the question. Why the Burmese junta choose an Island, instead of inland, as a location for this nuclear facility ? The answer would have worth quite a few hundred milion dollars, perhaps.
Regards, U Ne Oo.
"Nuclear reactor" equipment reportedly shipped to Burmese naval base April 5, 2003 5:17am
We have learned that two fully-loaded freighters carrying Russian equipment needed for the building of a nuclear reactor arrived at SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] naval base on Zadetkyi Kyun in Kawthaung Township 31 March. The equipment was shipped via Singapore aboard two freighters, Mandalay, and Pinya.
Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Myint Maung Maung sent this report.
[Myint Maung Maung] The two freighters docked for inspection at No 58 Naval Base on Zadetkyi Kyun on 31 March and proceeded to Rangoon with an escort of naval vessels providing security. The two freighters, Mandalay and Pinya, were reported to be carrying over 5,000 tons of equipment needed to build a nuclear reactor and shipped from Russia.
The equipment presumably will be used to build a nuclear reactor which is being planned on Kalagok Kyun in Mon State.
A group of 32 Russian experts led by a director of the SPDC's Ministry of Energy had been surveying the land and enviroment around Kalagok Kyun from 25 March to 3 April. A report from Mon sources said SPDC Army had confiscated more than 300 acres of farmland belonging to the local Mon people.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 3 Apr 03
Far Eastern Economic Review: Burma Joins the Nuclear Club Russia Muscles in on China's Turf with a Reactor for Burma
By Bertil Lintner
Issue cover-dated December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2002
Burma is one of the world's poorest and least developed countries, yet it is apparently embarking on a nuclear-power project with the help of Russian and, possibly, Pakistani scientists. And Beijing is none too happy at seeing Moscow muscling in on its turf, according to diplomats.
The project was initiated by Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry, which in February announced plans to build a 10-megawatt research reactor in central Burma.
In July, Burma's Foreign Minister Win Aung, accompanied by the military-ruled country's ministers of defence, energy, industry and railways, travelled to Moscow to finalize the deal. At the time, Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov as saying that Russia considers Burma a "promising partner in Asia and the Pacific region."
He had reason to be pleased as Russia also managed to sell 10 MiG-29 fighter aircraft for $130 million to Burma. Rival China is Burma's main military supplier, while the West shuns the country.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the nuclear facility is scheduled to take place at a secret location near the town of Magwe in January. The equipment and reactor will be delivered in 2003, while more than 300 Burmese nationals have received nuclear technical training in Russia over the past year, according to Russian diplomats.
Tight secrecy surrounds the fledgling nuclear programme and there is little noticeable activity around the recently established Department of Atomic Energy in Rangoon, residents say. The project is believed to be the brainchild of Burmese Minister of Science and Technology U Thaung, who is reported to believe that nuclear research is necessary for "a modern nation."
But while Burma suffers from a chronic power shortage, it's not clear why it would need a research reactor, which is used mainly for medical purposes.
The programme came under the spotlight recently after two Pakistani nuclear scientists, with long experience at two of their country's most secret nuclear installations, showed up in Burma after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
According to Asian and European intelligence sources, Suleiman Asad and Muhammed Ali Mukhtar left Pakistan for Burma when it became clear that American officials were interested in interrogating them about their links with suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The U.S. believes bin Laden wants to develop a nuclear weapon.
A Pakistani news agency reported that the duo went to Burma to assist local scientists in "some kind of research work," leading many observers to believe they had joined the nuclear project.
There is no clear evidence linking them to the Russian-supported nuclear programme. But one Asian diplomat speculates that if the Pakistanis are indeed assisting Burmese scientists it could be in the field of taking care of nuclear waste.
This is a highly lucrative business, and Burma desperately needs foreign
exchange to help to prop up its moribund economy
Information Sheet No.A-0778 Date. 27-1-99
(1) Project Formulation Meeting on Maintenance and Repair of Nuclear Instruments Opens
A ceremony to open the Project Formulation Meeting on Maintenance and Repair of Nuclear Instruments co-sponsored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Department of Atomic Energy of the Ministry of Science and Technology was held at International Business Centre on Pyay Road on 25 January. Seven developing nations which are also members of the RCA, the regional cooperative agreement for Nuclear Science and Technology have agreed to participate in a new project to promote the capabilities for Repair and Maintenance of Nuclear Instruments. This new project is sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has taken as its responsibility the promotion of nuclear science and technology for human welfare.
Myanmar started quite early, in the 1950s, to promote nuclear science and technology. However, Myanmar has had set-backs due to various factors. She is now starting on new efforts-- this time the commitment of the state is made obvious by the establishment of the Ministry of Science and Technology in 1996 and setting up of the Department of Atomic Energy as a new directorate in 1997. With these new establishments Myanmar efforts for development and applications of nuclear science and technology have started to gather momentum. There are clear indications that Myanmar is getting more and more involved in international cooperation.
Myanmar has nuclear radiation application for promoting agriculture. The IAEA has been assisting Myanmar with agriculture related projects. There is an ongoing program for new varieties of crops, particularly peas, beans and paddy by using the method of radiation induced mutations. The Veterinary Department is also using nuclear techniques for disease diagnosis in animals and to obtain the best feeding strategies. The best known application of radiation is in the Health Sector. Yangon, Mandalay and Sao San Htun General Hospitals ( Taunggyi, Shan State) have radiation facilities for treatment of Cancer. It is again the IAEA to provide these facilities.
Yangon General Hospital has a Nuclear Medicine Department, reasonably well equipped, to provide nuclear techniques for disease diagnosis as well as treatment of diseases. A tissue bank project, which is not quite well known yet, is now in progress in Kyimyindine Orthopaedic Hospital. Yangon and Mawlamyine Universities are known to have nuclear instruments for teaching and research, which are also the result of IAEA assistance. Under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Myanma Science & Technology Research Department (MSTRD) has set up a non-destructive testing (NDT) laboratory which is capable of providing NDT training at the basic level, as well as some NDT testing. The Department of Atomic Energy has a radiation laboratory to provide radiation measurements on environmental and industrial samples, analysis for composition of samples from various sources, an instrumentation laboratory for repair and maintenance and a TLD Lab for personal dosimetry monitoring services. The DAE also has radiation monitoring devices for use in its radiation protection work. There are many more to come in the project pipelines. Mr. T Kita of IAEA and Deputy Director-General of the Department of Atomic Energy made speeches. Representative of IAEA recounted experience of the projects carried out in Latin America and representatives of respective countries on their reports. They then discussed matters related to the reports. The meeting will continue till 29 January.