Credible evidence: Myanmar is acquiring N-weapon components

Senior General Than Shwe, Myanmar's Head of State since 1992
Myanmar has begun secretly acquiring key components for a nuclear weapons program, including specialized equipment used to make uranium metal for nuclear bombs, according to evidence smuggled out of the country by an army Major.

Sai Thein Win, who had fled the country recently, says he visited key installations and attended meetings at which the new technology was demonstrated.

The evidence brought by him includes hundreds of photos and documents like technical drawings of bomb-reduction vessel, which is chiefly used in the making of uranium metal for fuel rods and nuclear-weapons components. He also released a document purporting to show a Burmese government official ordering production of the device, as well as photos of the finished vessel.

Other photographs show Burmese military officials and civilians posing beside a vacuum glove box, which is used in the production of uranium metal. According to Sai Thein Win, Myanmar junta is engaged in various phases of a nuclear-weapons programme from uranium mining to work on advanced lasers used in uranium enrichment. Some of the machinery appears to have been of Western origin.

Experts, who studied the evidence, opine that there are enormous gaps in Myanmar’s technical know-how and as such it is unlikely to make N- bomb quickly.

Dissident group Democratic Voice of Burma commissioned the analysis of the ‘evidence’ and provided copies of the analysis to al-Jazeera, The Washington Post and a few other news outlets.

Though there here have been numerous allegations in the past about secret nuclear activity by the Junta, such accounts were based largely on ambiguous satellite images and uncorroborated stories by defectors.

The analysis concludes with “high confidence” that Myanmar is seeking nuclear technology. It is only for nuclear weapons and not for civilian use or nuclear power.”

“The intent is clear, and that is a very disturbing matter for international agreements,” Washington Post reported on May 4 quoted the report, co-authored by Robert E. Kelley, a retired senior U.N. nuclear inspector with Democratic Voice of Burma researcher Ali Fowle.

The report notes that the Burmese scientists appear to be struggling to master the technology and that some processes, such as laser enrichment, likely far exceed the capabilities of the impoverished, isolated country.

This assessment appears credible, Washington Post quoted a nuclear weapons analyst who reviewed the report. “It’s just too easy to hide a program like this,” Joshua H. Pollack, a consultant to the U.S. government, said.

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