Fresh claims that Myanmar is trying to acquire the know-how and material to build a nuclear weapon, based on information provided by a former army officer, are published on Friday, renewing concern about the extent of the junta’s military ambitions.
Unrealistic experiments and crude engineering suggest that success may be beyond Myanmar’s reach, say researchers for an opposition media group.
They base their claims on information provided by Sai Thein Win, a former major in the Myanmar army, who is said to have been trained in Russia in missile technology. He has since defected from Myanmar.
“Myanmar is trying to build pieces of a nuclear programme, specifically a nuclear reactor to make plutonium and a uranium enrichment programme,” said the researchers, Robert Kelley and Ali Fowle, of the Democratic Voice of Burma.
A report, Myanmar’s Nuclear Ambitions, is being broadcast on the Arabic satellite television channel al-Jazeera on Friday. “What we have uncovered is the very beginnings of a nuclear weapons programme,” Evan Williams, the programme’s reporter, said.
In a related development, Jim Webb, chairman of the US Senate foreign relations subcommittee on east Asia and Pacific affairs, said he had put off a visit to Myanmar because of new, albeit unsubstantiated, allegations that its military regime was collaborating with North Korea to develop a nuclear programme.