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Posts Tagged ‘Myanmar

US backs inquiry into alleged Burma war crimes

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BBC

US backs inquiry into alleged Burma war crimes

By Kim Ghattas BBC News, Washington

18 August 2010 Last updated at 20:14 GMT

The US government says it will back the creation of an international commission to investigate alleged war crimes by Burma’s military junta.

The body could advance the cause of human rights in Burma by “addressing issues of accountability” for members of the regime, the White House said.

A senior US official told the BBC the move was still consistent with the US policy of engagement with Burma.

The US announced in 2009 that it would engage diplomatically with Burma.

In March, UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana released a critical report referring to “systematic violation of human rights” for years in the country.

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The Obama administration’s aim was to help put Burma on a path to reform, achieve credible elections as well as promote national reconciliation, including with the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyii.

But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says efforts have yielded no improvement in the situation inside the country, ahead of general elections scheduled for 7 November.

“Diplomatic engagement is not a reward – it is a tool designed to facilitate and encourage positive change,” a state department official told the BBC.

“We have been clear all along this did not preclude us from taking steps to increase pressure when warranted.”

Further sanctions

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“Start Quote

This is a clear message that the United States will not recognize their show-case election and will make them accountable for their horrible abuses against their own citizens”

End Quote Aung Din, executive director US Campaign for Burma

The commission of inquiry could be formed either through the UN Human Rights Council, through a UN General Assembly resolution or by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and could eventually lead to a war crimes prosecution.

The US official hinted that further sanctions on Burma were also possible.

“Our sanctions regime is dynamic, is constantly being assessed for efficacy, and is capable of being adjusted as warranted by conditions within Burma and the actions of the Burmese government,” he added.

The US move has been welcomed by human rights organisations like the US Campaign for Burma.

“This is the right and timely action by the Obama administration in response to the power-thirsty and brutal generals in [the Burmese capital] Nay Pyi Taw, who are expecting to delete their dirty crimes by putting a sham constitution into effect through a sham election,” said the group’s executive director, Aung Din.

“This is a clear message that the United States will not recognize their show-case election and will make them accountable for their horrible abuses against their own citizens.”

It is unclear what impact, if any, the commission will have on the leadership, particularly the ruling General Than Shwe.

But much of what drives policy towards Burma, including the decision to engage, is about influencing younger members of the junta, who may not be as deeply involved in any alleged war crimes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11015596

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 23, 2010 at 2:27 am

Why a U.N. probe of Burma is a crucial step

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Why a U.N. probe of Burma is a crucial step

Friday, August 20, 2010; A22

THE EVIDENCE against Burma’s junta has been piling up for many years. Thousands upon thousands of girls and women raped as a tactic of war by the Burmese army; children press-ganged to serve as porters; 3,500 villages burned to the ground in recent years; millions of people forced from their homes — these are some of the crimes against humanity sponsored by the generals who rule their Southeast Asian nation of 50 million people.

Now, by deciding to support a United Nations commission of inquiry into these misdeeds, the Obama administration has acknowledged the weight of the evidence and has testified to the urgency of holding criminals accountable for their crimes. It is a major step forward. The U.N. special envoy for Burma (also known as Myanmar), Tom?s Ojea Quintana, has called for such an inquiry, citing the “the gross and systematic nature of human rights violations in Myanmar over a period of many years.” In Congress there is strong bipartisan backing for such an inquiry. Most important, Burmese human rights activists and dissidents both inside and outside the country have supported such an inquiry, sometimes at great personal risk.

Backing a U.N. commission does not supplant previous U.S. policy. It’s not a substitute for economic sanctions, which should be extended and targeted more precisely at the nation’s leaders. Nor does it replace the administration’s policy of engagement, which has yet to bear fruit but need not be discarded. Had Burmese leader Than Shwe responded more positively to administration outreach, investigation into his crimes would nonetheless have been appropriate. Conversely, an inquiry need not discourage the administration from reaching out in a pragmatic way.

What an inquiry can do, however, is signal to the younger officers around Than Shwe, 77, that their futures may be brighter if they do not hitch themselves to his policies of mass rape and ethnic cleansing (not to mention his deepening ties with North Korea). It can provide a ray of hope and moral support to the unimaginably brave fighters for democracy inside Burma, who will carry on their struggle with or without such encouragement. And it can signal to the most offensive dictators around the world that they cannot escape justice by selling off their nations’ timber and natural gas, or by scheduling (as has Than Shwe) fraudulent elections aimed at civilianizing their authoritarian regimes.

If its support of a commission of inquiry is to be more than a gesture, the Obama administration now must engage in hard-headed diplomacy. That means making clear to China, the European Union, Canada, India, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and others that justice for Burma is a priority and not an afterthought. It will take work. But, as President Obama said when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, “When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma — there must be consequences. . . . And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/19/AR2010081905723.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 23, 2010 at 2:22 am

The United Nations General Assembly & Burma

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This is grabbed from Burma Campaign UK on Facebook.

Burma Briefing No: 2

Comment, Briefing & Analysis From Burma Campaign UK

The United Nations General Assembly & Burma

Key points:

19 Resolutions on Burma by the General Assembly have been ignored by the dictatorship ruling the country.

Since 1992, 18 years ago, the General Assembly has been calling on the dictatorship in Burma to respect the Geneva Conventions, but it is still failing to do so.[1]

Language used in past General Assembly Resolution relates to 15 possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In 2002, 8 years ago, the General Assembly called for an independent international investigation into abuses of civilians.

Despite 17 calls for inquiries since 1997, the General Assembly has failed to exercise its power to establish its own inquiry into abuses, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On grounds of international law and justice, political reality, and morality, ‘elections’ due in Burma later this year should not be used as a reason not to, or to delay, the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry.

The 20th United Nations General Assembly resolution on Burma is an opportunity to build on and start to enforce previous resolutions. The General Assembly must take the next logical step and establish a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

Summary

United Nations General Assembly, made up of all members of the United Nations, has been adopting resolutions on the situation in Burma since 1991. In late 2010 it is expected to adopt its 20th Resolution on Burma.

The Resolutions, which are not binding under international law, have made many requests to the dictatorship ruling Burma, the overwhelming majority of which have been completely ignored. Indeed, the Resolutions themselves have frequently referred to the fact that previous resolutions have been ignored.

The nineteen Resolutions which the General Assembly have passed on Burma have expanded from a few paragraphs in 1991 to a few pages in 2009.[2] They now refer to a wide range of human rights abuses and other issues, which is a welcome step forward. However, they have not progressed in terms of responding in a practical way to the fact that the Resolutions are being ignored. Nor have they responded in a logical and responsible way to the increased seriousness of the abuses revealed by United Nations reports, and then referred to in the General Assembly Resolutions.

With regards to the continued refusal by the dictatorship to act on General Assembly Resolutions, the logical step for the Assembly, given the seriousness of the abuses, and failure of the dictatorship to act, would be referring the situation in Burma to the United Nations Security Council, which has binding powers, and calling on the Council to adopt a binding resolution enforcing General Assembly requests. The General Assembly resolutions regularly refer to Burma as causing problems for neighbouring countries and as meeting the general criteria as a non-traditional threat to the peace. Resolutions also refer to abuses which constitute possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, which the Security Council has a duty to act on. In addition, the Security Council, in placing Burma on its formal agenda, has already agreed the situation in Burma meets the criteria for its engagement.  For the General Assembly to call on the Security Council to act is a practical and sensible next step.

–   First reference by General Assembly to international law relating to war crimes: 1992

–   First reference by General Assembly to abuses that are now classified by the Rome Statute as possible crimes against humanity: 1992

The most serious failure of the General Assembly regarding Burma is in relation to international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The United Nations General Assembly has consistently referred to abuses which could qualify as war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has also repeatedly called on the dictatorship to abide by the Geneva Conventions. However, it has failed to use language such as war crimes – which is what breaches of the Geneva Conventions amount to, or crimes against humanity, which many of the other abuses it refers to amount to. The failure to use such language assists the dictatorship in avoiding the international action that its actions should entail.

The General Assembly has also frequently called for independent investigations into the serious human rights abuses taking place. The General Assembly has called for several different kinds of investigations, including investigations by the dictatorship, independent investigations, investigations in cooperation with the dictatorship but led by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, and even an independent international investigation.

Despite the fact that none of these investigations, which the General Assembly has now been calling for since 1997, have ever taken place, the General Assembly has failed to take the next logical step of establishing its own investigation, which it has the power to do.

In March 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma called for a UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. He stated that the abuses were: ‘a state policy that involves authorities in the executive, military and judiciary at all levels’. He further stated: ‘According to consistent reports, the possibility exists that some of these human rights violations may entail categories of crimes against humanity or war crimes under the terms of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.’ … ‘UN institutions may consider the possibility to establish a commission of inquiry with a specific fact finding mandate to address the question of international crimes.'[3]

As governments start to consult on the contents of the 20th General Assembly resolution on Burma, they should now ensure that the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry be part of the Resolution. Continuing to comment on abuses that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, but failing to use language which describes them as such, and also failing to take action within the power of the General Assembly to investigate those abuses, can only add to the sense of impunity which the dictatorship enjoys. The General Assembly has itself repeatedly called for an end to this impunity.

The argument that the establishment of such an inquiry should not go ahead at the present time because of ‘elections’ due in Burma later this year is flawed legally, politically and morally.

Whether or not elections are taking place in Burma, the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry is related to international law and ending impunity in Burma. It is a question of international law and justice, and should not be a political decision.

Even if it were a decision to be made on a tactical political basis, which would go against accepted good legal practice anywhere in the world, the prospect of elections gives no hope for any significant change in terms of Burma’s political and human rights situation, and no government expects any immediate significant change.

None of the requests the General Assembly has made regarding making the dictatorship’s roadmap, elections and constitution fair and credible have been met. And the General Assembly in its 2009 resolution left no doubt on the matter, stating that the human rights situation in Burma is deteriorating, and will continue to do so unless international demands to the dictatorship, including investigations into abuses and an end to impunity, are met. They haven’t been. Nor can they be once elections have taken place.

Following elections, it becomes impossible for any investigation to take place in Burma, so the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry is the only way that war crimes committed by the dictatorship can be investigated, as the General Assembly has said must happen seventeen times since 1997.

The new constitution of Burma, which is due to come into force after the elections, has a clause granting anyone from the dictatorship and government immunity from prosecution for ‘…any act done in the execution of their respective duties.’

In direct defiance of repeated UN General Assembly resolutions for investigations and an end to impunity, Article 445 of the Constitution states:

‘All policy guidelines, laws, regulations, notifications and declarations of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council, or actions, rights and responsibilities of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council shall devolve to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. No proceeding shall be instituted against the said councils or any member thereof or any member of the Government, in respect of any act done in the execution of their respective duties.’

If the repeated demands of the UN General Assembly regarding investigations and an end to impunity are ever to be realised, they will have to come from the General Assembly itself establishing a Commission of Inquiry.

When previous UN General Assembly resolutions on Burma are viewed in detail, it becomes clear that the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the General Assembly would not be the dramatic step it is perceived to be by some governments and observers.

A brief summary of United Nations General Assembly resolutions relating to possible war crimes and crimes against humanity

The 1991 General Assembly Resolution:

In its first Resolution in 1991 the General Assembly referred to ‘substantive available information indicating the grave human rights situation in Myanmar.’

The 1992 General Assembly Resolution:

In the second Resolution passed on 18th December 1992, almost 18 years ago, the General Assembly first called on the dictatorship to respect international law. Paragraph 10 of the Resolution: ‘Also calls upon the Government of Myanmar to respect fully the obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, in particular the obligations under article 3 common to the conventions and to make use of such services as may be offered by impartial humanitarian bodies.’

Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions specifically refers to conflict not of an international nature, and includes treatment of non-combatants as well as those engaged in military actions.

The General Assembly detailed some of the abuses taking place; ‘…torture and arbitrary execution, continued detention of a large number of persons for political reasons, the existence of important restrictions on the exercise of fundamental freedoms and the imposition of oppressive measures directed in particular at ethnic and religious minorities.’ It also stated that; ‘the human rights situation in Myanmar has resulted in massive flows of refugees to neighbouring countries.’

In areas of conflict some of these abuses qualify as war crimes.

Arbitrary execution, if widespread and systematic, was later defined by the Rome Statute, which came into force in 2002 as a possible crime against humanity.

Persecution of an identifiable group of the basis of ethnicity or religion can also be a crime against humanity.

Torture can also qualify as a crime against humanity.

In summary, the 1992 General Assembly resolution in Burma made reference to two possible war crimes and four possible crimes against humanity.

The 1993 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1993 the General Assembly again described the abuses in its 1992 Resolution, but this time also included reference to ‘abuse of women’, ‘enforced disappearances’ and ‘forced labour’.

This brings to seven the number of possible abuses referred to by the General Assembly which could constitute crimes against humanity.

The 1994 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1994 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity, and again called on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

The General Assembly also expressed its concern about an attack the Burmese Army made on a refugee camp in Thailand in 1994. Such an attack could also be classified as a war crime.

The 1995 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1995 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity, and again called on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Specific reference was made to: ‘..the attacks by Myanmar Army soldiers on the Karens and Karennis during the past year, resulting in further refugee flows to a neighbouring country.’

The 1996 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1996 the General Assembly again referred to the abuses which are now classified as possible crimes against humanity. However, it went further than previous Resolutions in relations to calling on the dictatorship to respect its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. It called on the dictatorship to: ‘…halt the use of weapons against the civilian population, to protect all civilians, including children, women and persons belonging to ethnic or religious minorities, from violations of humanitarian law…’

Specifically using language regarding use of weapons against civilians amounts to describing a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

The 1997 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1997 the General Assembly repeated the language on human rights abuses and the Geneva Convention in the previous year’s Resolution, but in addition referred to forced labour and abuse of children by government agents.

In this resolution for the first time the General Assembly called for an investigation into the abuses taking place, and end to impunity: ‘Also strongly urges the Government of Myanmar…to fulfil its obligation to end the impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations, including members of the military, and to investigate and prosecute alleged violations committed by government agents in all circumstances.’

The 1998 General Assembly Resolution:

In 1998 the General Assembly repeated the language on human rights abuses, abiding by the Geneva Conventions and on an investigation into abuses.  In addition, it referred to the International Labour Organisation Commission of Inquiry into forced labour, and how it: ‘indicates a widespread and systematic use of forced labour imposed by the military on the civilian population.’ For an abuse to qualify as a crime against humanity it has to be widespread and systematic. This is the first occasion the General Assembly used this language.

The 1999 General Assembly Resolution:

The 1999 General Assembly Resolution repeated the language of the 1998 Resolution with regards to abuses, international law and calls for an investigation.

The 2000 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2000 General Assembly Resolution repeated the language of the 1999 Resolution with regards to abuses, international law and calls for an investigation.

However, it went further in using stronger language, and referring to new abuses which could constitute possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Enforced displacement was referred to as systematic for the first time, which carries legal significance.

Trafficking was also referred to for the first time, which in certain circumstances could constitute a crime against humanity.

The use of child soldiers was also referred to, with the Resolution stating it: ‘Deplores the recruitment of children as soldiers, in particular children belonging to ethnic minorities, and strongly urges the government of Myanmar and all other parties to the hostilities in Myanmar to end the abuses of children as soldiers.’

The 2001 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2001 General Assembly Resolution generally repeated language in previous resolutions.

The 2002 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2002 General Assembly Resolution generally repeated language in previous resolutions.

However, it also called on the dictatorship to; ‘…ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance and to guarantee that it does reach the most vulnerable groups of the population.’ Blocking humanitarian assistance could qualify as a crime against humanity as an inhumane act intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

By the time of the 2002 Resolution, passed on 18th December, the Rome Statute had come into force. By now in 12 separate Resolutions the General Assembly had either referred to or called for action on matters that could constitute nine possible crimes against humanity and five possible war crimes.

Under the Rome Statute these possible crimes cannot be investigated if they took place before July 2002. However, in this Resolution the General Assembly:

‘Expresses its grave concern at:

(a)  The ongoing (bold our emphasis) systematic violation of the human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, of the people of Myanmar

(b)  Extrajudicial killings; rapes and other forms of sexual violence carried out by the members of the armed forces; torture; renewed instances of political arrests and continuing detentions, including of prisoners who have served their sentences; forced relocation; destruction of livelihoods; forced labour; denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement; discrimination on the basis of religious or ethnic background; wide disrespect for the rule of law and lack of independence of the judiciary; deeply unsatisfactory conditions of detention; systematic use of child soldiers; and violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, in particular food and medical care, and to education;’

Here, five months after the Rome Statute has come into force, the General Assembly describes ten possible crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute.

For the first time the General Assembly called on the dictatorship: ‘to facilitate and cooperate fully with an independent international investigation of charges of rape and other abuse of civilians carried out by members of the armed forces in Shan and other states.’

The 2003 General Assembly Resolution:

Again used similar language to previous Resolutions regarding abuses taking place, but additionally calls for an independent investigation with international cooperation into the Depayin incident. This incident was an attack by a pro-dictatorship political militia on a convoy that Aung San Suu Kyi was travelling in. Many of her supporters were beaten to death.

The 2004 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2004 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, but also described enforced displacement as ‘systematic’, language which has legal significance.

The 2005 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2005 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, including for investigations into abuses, but additionally specifically called on the dictatorship: ‘To ensure that government forces do not engage in food and land requisition or the destruction of villages.’ Additional language on unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance was added which specifically referred to international law and international humanitarian law.

The 2006 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2006 General Assembly Resolution repeated previous language, but included new and stronger language, repeatedly describing abuses as systematic or widespread.  Attacks on villages in Karen State were specifically referred to.

In addition, language regarding impunity and investigations was expanded and strengthened:

(e) To end impunity, and to this end:

–  To investigate and bring to justice any perpetrators of human rights violations, including members of the military and other government agents in all circumstances;

– To facilitate a genuinely independent investigation of continuing reports of sexual violence, in particular against women belonging to ethnic nationalities, and other abuse of civilians carried out by members of the armed forces in Shan, Karen, Mon and other States;

– To facilitate a genuinely independent investigation into the attack perpetrated near Depayin on 30th May 2003;’

The 2007 General Assembly Resolution:

Similar language to previous Resolutions used again, and much stronger language on international law. The Resolution expressed grave concern at:

‘The major and repeated violations of international humanitarian law committed against civilians, as denounced by the International Committee of the Red Cross in June 2007;’

It also called on the dictatorship to: ‘Put an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use if child soldiers, in violation of international law, by all parties, to intensify measures to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict…’

Specific reference to the targeting of civilians in military operations was also made:

To take urgent measures to put an end to the military operations targeting civilians in ethnic areas, and to the associated violations of human rights and humanitarian law….

The wording of the 2007 Resolution builds on and takes forward previous resolutions in relation to the dictatorship’s obligations under international law. Abuses are increasingly described in the context of international law, and specific reference is being made to that law being broken. The General Assembly is clearly moving closer to viewing the situation in Burma in the context of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, even though it does not actually use those words.

The 2008 General Assembly Resolution:

The 2008 General Assembly Resolution again increased specific language relating to international law, calling on the dictatorship:

‘To take urgent measures to put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the targeting of civilian by military operations, rape and other forms of sexual violence persistently carried out by members of the armed forces, and the targeting of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups;’

Here for the first time the General Assembly specifically state that there are violations of international human rights law, and then goes on to list some of those violations.

Again the General Assembly calls for abuses to be investigated. This time the General Assembly calls on the dictatorship: ‘To allow a full, transparent effective impartial and independent investigation, primarily by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar…’

The 2009 General Assembly Resolution:

The last Resolution on Burma from the General Assembly again repeated much from previous resolutions, describing abuses which could meet the criteria of war crimes and crimes against humanity, using language relating to these as systematic, and referring to international law.  The General Assembly also repeated its call for abuses to be investigated.

The Resolution also raised concerns about the new constitution of Burma which is due to come into force after the elections expected before the end of 2010:

‘Calls upon the Government of Myanmar to undertake a transparent and comprehensive review of compliance of the Constitution and all national legislation with international human rights law…’

The Resolution reaffirmed previous Resolutions and stated that the General Assembly was:

‘Deeply concerned that the urgent calls contained in the above mentioned resolutions, as well as statements of other United Nations bodies concerning the situation of human rights in Myanmar, have not been met, and emphasising that, without significant progress towards meetings these calls of the international community, the situation of human rights in Myanmar will continue to deteriorate.’

In its last Resolution on Burma:

The General Assembly is clearly stating that the human rights situation in Burma is deteriorating, and will continue to do so unless international demands are met.

The General Assembly also acknowledges that requests made in eighteen previous General Assembly resolutions have not been met.

The General Assembly continues to describe abuses which could constitute war crimes and crimes and against humanity, specifically using language on international law.

The General Assembly continues to call for independent investigations into abuses taking place. It also says the United Nations should have a role in investigations. By 2009 the General Assembly made a total of seventeen calls for various kinds of investigations.

In the context of this and 18 previous Resolutions, for the General Assembly to establish a Commission of Inquiry is not a major departure from previous positions. It is a comparatively small but logical next step based on previous resolutions.

It is also an essential next step if the credibility and relevance of the resolutions and General Assembly is to be maintained. For the General Assembly to continue to describe and condemn possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, to continue to state that international law is being broken, and continue to call for abuses to be investigated when it is capable of, and indeed has a duty, to establish an investigation itself, is an abrogation of responsibility, and reinforces the sense of impunity with which the dictatorship in Burma operates.

The 20th United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Burma is an opportunity to take the first step towards ending impunity in Burma and seeing the reductions in human rights abuses for which the Assembly has called in vain for 20 years.

………………..

[1] UNGA Resolution 47/144 Situation in Myanmar 17th December 1992, Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 10th March 2010: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-48.pdf, and, Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 21st September 2006

[2] UNGA Resolutions can be accessed at: http://www.un.org/documents/resga.htm

[3] Progress report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 10th March 2010: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/13session/A-HRC-13-48.pdf

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Burma Announces Date of Parliamentary Elections

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Voice of America

Burma Announces Date of Parliamentary Elections

The voting will be the first since 1990

VOA News13 August 2010

Burma’s military government says the country’s long-awaited elections will be held November 7.

The regime made the announcement Friday over state-controlled radio and television outlets.

The November elections will be the first in Burma since 1990, when the opposition National League for Democracy party won in a landslide.  The ruling junta refused to recognize the results.

The NLD refused to register for this year’s elections, because its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is effectively barred from participating in the elections.  The Nobel Peace laureate has been under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years.

At least 40 political parties have registered for the elections, which critics have called a sham designed to keep the ruling military junta in power.  At least seven of the parties standing in the election are aligned with the regime.

The NLD was officially disbanded in May under the current laws, but a group of NLD members have formed a breakaway party to stand in the elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/Burma-Announces-Date-of-Parliamentary-Elections-100604244.html

//

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

August 13, 2010 at 8:01 am

Posted in Varieties in English

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Challenge impunity in Myanmar

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Opinion

Challenge impunity in Myanmar

Yozo Yokota, Tokyo | Tue, 07/06/2010 9:07 AM | Opinion

Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, told the United Nations that Myanmar’s ruling military junta may be committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that these international crimes should be investigated. I agree.

The past three years have drawn the world’s attention to the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Myanmar as never before.  Now Myanmar’s dictator Than Shwe is hoping the world has a short memory; he plans a façade of an election later this year, to put sheen of legitimacy on dictatorial rule.

The courageous protests led by Buddhist monks in September 2007, and the regime’s shocking crackdown, including the killing of Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, exposed more clearly than ever before the regime’s cruelty.

Eight months later, Cyclone Nargis ripped through the country, leaving death and devastation in its wake, and the regime’s initial refusal to accept international aid workers evidenced its inhumanity.

The continuing military offensives against civilians in ethnic areas, particularly in eastern Myanmar, the assassination of at least one prominent ethnic leader and attempts on the lives of others and a callous disregard for a famine in Chin State all expose once again the regime’s agenda of ethnic cleansing.

As the regime prepares to hold elections this year, the world must remember the backdrop of the past three years. Last year, a report was published by Harvard Law School called Crimes in Myanmar.

Commissioned by some of the world’s leading jurists, including Judge Patricia Wald (US), Hon. Ganzorig Gombosuren (Mongolia), Sir Geoffrey Nice QC (UK), Judge Richard Goldstone (South Africa), and Judge Pedro Nikken (Venezuela), the report concludes that the regime’s violations of human rights may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that these should be investigated by the United Nations. As a former UN special rapporteur, I agree.

During my period as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, I received incontrovertible evidence that forced labor, the forcible conscription of child soldiers; torture and rape as a weapon of war are widespread and systematic in Myanmar. Since that time, the evidence has grown stronger. It is claimed by the Thailand-Myanmar Border Consortium that as many as 3,500 villages have been destroyed in eastern Myanmar since 1996. Villagers have been used as human minesweepers, forced to walk through fields of landmines to clear them for the military, often resulting in loss of their limbs and sometimes their lives in the process.

I visited prisons and heard many testimonies of cruel forms of torture. Today, over 2,100 political prisoners are believed to be in Myanmar’s jails, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s democracy leader, remains under house arrest. She has spent over 14 of the past 20 years in detention.

Religious persecution is widespread. The regime is intolerant of non-Myanmarese ethnic minorities and non-Buddhist religious minorities. The predominantly Christian Chin and Kachin peoples, as well as the partly Christian Karen and Karenni, face discrimination, restriction and persecution, including the destruction of churches and crosses. Christians have been forced to tear down crosses and built Buddhist pagodas in their place, at gunpoint. The Muslim Rohingyas face similar persecution, and are denied citizenship in the country despite living in Myanmar’s northern Arakan state for generations. As a result they face unbearable restrictions on movement and marriage, and have almost no access to education and health care.

The United Nations has been documenting these crimes for many years. My fellow former rapporteur, Rajsoomah Lallah, concluded as long ago as 1996 that these abuses were “the result of policy at the highest level, entailing political and legal responsibility.” A recent General Assembly resolution urged the regime to “put an end to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”. The UN has placed Myanmar on a monitoring list for genocide, while the Genocide Risk Index lists Myanmar as one of the two top “red alert” countries for genocide, along with Sudan.

Non-Governmental Organizations have made similar assessments. Amnesty International described the violations in eastern Myanmar as crimes against humanity, while the Minority Rights Group ranks Myanmar as one of the top five countries where ethnic minorities are under threat. Freedom House describes Myanmar as “the worst of the worst”.

Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice draw similar conclusions.  With “elections” looming and an increase in crimes against humanity already prevalent in Than Shwe’s attempt to end all ethnic minority resistance to his rule, now is the time for concerted international action before more lives are lost.

Impunity prevails in Myanmar and no action has been taken to bring an end to these crimes. That is why we believe the United Nations has an obligation to respond to the current rapporteur’s recommendation and establish a commission of inquiry, to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity and propose action. The UN Security Council should also impose a universal arms embargo on Myanmar’s regime. The regime has been allowed to get away with these crimes for too long. The climate of impunity should not be allowed to continue unchallenged.

The writer was UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar from 1992 to 1996 and a member of the UN Sub–Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights from 2000-2009.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/07/06/challenge-impunity-myanmar.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Burma’s Nuclear Mystery

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A mysterious silence surrounds the Obama administration’s failure to disclose the extent of Burma’s nuclear threat as required under US law

Burma’s Nuclear Mystery

By Scott Johnson  Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Allegations of Burma’s nuclear ambitions hit the newswires on June 3rd with a report by a former U.N. nuclear expert claiming the military regime is seeking to develop an atomic bomb.

Commissioned by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), the report clearly raised the stakes about this newest threat to international security and peace, which previously had been recognized only within intelligence circles and Burma’s pro-democracy movement. In response, US Senator Jim Webb even cancelled his planned trip to the Burmese capital where he was due to meet the generals in charge. Thus it’s clear the nuclear allegations are serious and yet there has long been a deafening silence about Burma’s nuclear ambitions.

In 2008 an Act of Congress was promulgated in the United States requiring the US State Department to disclose findings on Burma’s nuclear capabilities. The initial date for this mandatory annual disclosure was January 2009, and at this stage there should have been two such reports. To date, though, the Administration has been silent. The law in question is the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008. Its intent is to promote human rights, and it includes sanctions and embargoes on such things as halting gemstone profits to Burma’s repressive dictatorship. The law also includes measures supporting democratic reforms and humanitarian needs for the people of Burma.

More specifically, however, in Section 10 of the Act there is a requirement that the State Department publicly report to Congress about Burma’ military programs and suppliers, including their “weapons of mass destruction and related materials, capabilities, and technology, including nuclear, chemical, or dual use capabilities.” This requirement extends to the ominous task of listing the countries that provide such aid to Burma and that such be reported by none other than the US Secretary of State.

Yet it’s as if the JADE Act never existed. All is silent from Secretary Clinton, President Obama, the State Department, Congress and most everyone else in Washington. Those concerned with US law and nuclear proliferation have seemingly gone into hibernation.

Well, not all however, there are some pro-democracy groups – “Dictator Watch” for one, that has been publishing evidence of Burma’s nuclear ambitions for years. Their latest move was in April 2010, months before the DVB report was released, when they filed a freedom of information act application (FOIA) to the US State Department. The application specifically demanded why Section 10 of the JADE Act is being ignored.

I spoke to Roland Watson, the director of Dictator Watch, about this action and he provided a chilling description of Burma’s nuclear ambition. He also congratulated the Democratic Voice of Burma for getting their report in the public eye, for he believes Burma’s nuclear proliferation has been ignored far too long. He believes international action is needed to curtail Burma’s plans as it poses a multiple threat to international security. The regime is not only trying to acquire nuclear weapons; there is good evidence that it is selling refined uranium (yellow cake) to North Korea and perhaps even Iran. Watson’s organisation has conducted extensive research on the Burma nuclear issue, and has accumulated intelligence from ten different sources. These include Burmese military defectors who were trained in Russia on nuclear and related military technologies. The key to unlock the mysterious silence on the JADE Act is intricately linked to Burma’s dealings with North Korea, Russia, China and Iran.

Watson states that the Burmese military rulers first expressed an interest in becoming a nuclear power in the 1960s but that things escalated in 2001 when the regime, then under the dubious name SLORC, “struck a deal with Russia to buy a reactor.” The Burmese regime, now called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), was due in 2010 to have already completed this reactor. Hard evidence of this is lacking, though, but the deal with Moscow has long been public and ever since the SPDC has been sending military officers to Russia for training. The SPDC refers to this training as their State Scholar Program and Watson reports they have “sent anywhere from 3000 to 5000 officers to Russia, where they’ve been studying sciences related to tunnelling, aviation, ships, missiles, and all sorts of military related technologies.” These studies include nuclear sciences.

Dictator Watch has had access to information from two defectors of the SPDC’s State Scholar Program who had exposure to the nuclear program. These defectors reported that the SPDC is pursuing uranium enrichment, and also that it has acquired equipment for “plutonium activation,” from North Korea. The two sources of fissionable material for an atomic weapon are highly enriched uranium, and plutonium that is produced as a reactor by-product. It appears that Burma is following both tracks towards developing a bomb.

Watson provided a summary of Burma’s nuclear evidence. “First, Burma has uranium deposits and they have long admitted it themselves.” The SPDC in fact published such on their own Ministry of Energy website, identifying numerous sites. He reiterated that not only have commercially viable uranium deposits been found and are being mined, but that they are “being milled into yellow cake and offered for sale on the black market to anybody willing to pay the price.” Indeed, Watson said “Dictator Watch has information about such sale attempts.”

The international customers for Burma’s yellow cake include North Korea and some intelligence sources suggest Iran as well. It is believed that the large quantity of yellow cake that Iran purchased from South Africa in the 1970s has run out. Iran’s enrichment program is substantial, and growing, and Tehran clearly needs to secure new uranium supplies.

Burma’s links to Iran and North Korea are extremely troubling, and it was in 2009 that a publicized incident occurred between the US Navy and a North Korean vessel – a known weapons carrier called the Kang Nam I. This North Korean ship was reportedly carrying advanced weaponry (possibly nuclear technology) destined for Burma and a US Destroyer was dispatched to interdict it. The Kang Nam I eventually turned back to North Korea with cargo intact. Watson reports, however, that the ship had already gone to Burma at least once, possibly two times previously and unloaded its cargo at Rangoon – at night. On one of those occasions the Kang Nam I continued on to Iran. In 2008 the United States through diplomatic requests to India also blocked a cargo flight from North Korea from flying to Iran after it stopped in Burma.

It is further believed that the interdicted Kang Nam I shipment from 2009 was successfully delivered to Rangoon port in April 2010.

Dictator Watch has evidence that North Korea has long been selling Burma an array of weaponry, including missiles and nuclear technology. The weapons include Scud missiles (short range ballistic missiles), and the SPDC is reportedly pointing them towards military bases in Thailand.

With all this nuclear and weapons skulduggery going on it’s a wonder why Burma hasn’t been brought before the United Nations Security Council. For Watson the threat is clear, “If you have uranium mining, milling and then bartering of yellow cake to North Korea and Iran you have a significant threat to international security and peace, including divergent rogue trafficking of yellow cake to terrorists.” However, China and Russia are permanent members of the Security Council and have historically protected the SPDC from international repercussions. On Beijing’s role Watson laments, “The Chinese are the godfathers of Kim Jong Ill and Than Shwe and on an issue as big as this they couldn’t work together if China didn’t say ok.”

One thing seems clear, the world does not need another rogue nuclear state, especially one with a human rights record as brutal as Burma’s. As for the long silence on Burma’s nuclear mystery, the DVB report and Senator Webb’s cancelled visit suggest it may be unravelling. The JADE Act has been ignored however, and thus only time will tell if Dictator Watch’s FOIA filing too will be brushed aside.

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/25055

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 7, 2010 at 3:47 am

Part 2: International Tribunal (Japan) on Crimes against Women of Burma

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Part (2)

Live Broadcast

Video link — (a) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7927783

Video link — (b) http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/7926784

Source – Burma Campaign (Japan)

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

July 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi turns 65 in confinement

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Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi turns 65 in confinement

By The Associated Press

Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 8:29 p.m.

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi marked her 65th birthday Saturday locked in her dilapidated lakeside compound as calls for her freedom erupted around the world.

President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded Suu Kyi’s release in statements echoed at rallies and prayer vigils. Supporters threw a birthday party at the suburban Yangon home of a fellow opposition member. It was attended by more than 300 people but not the guest of honor.

A shadow of a Myanmarese is seen as she speaks at Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday celebration in New Delhi, India, Saturday, June 19, 2010. Suu Kyi marked her 65th birthday Saturday locked in her dilapidated lakeside compound as calls for her freedom erupted around the world. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Holding candles and yellow roses, they lit a birthday cake with 65 candles and released 65 doves into the sky while chanting, “Long Live Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.” Plainclothes security watched and videotaped the event.

Suu Kyi has now spent 15 birthdays in detention over the past 20 years, mostly under house arrest. She is the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate.

A Myanmar refugee holds a candle during an event to celebrate the 65th birthday of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, June 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

“It is very sad that she cannot celebrate her birthday in freedom,” said her lawyer Nyan Win.

Confined to her home, Suu Kyi planned to celebrate by providing a lunch of chicken curry and an Indian-style flat bread for the three dozen construction workers helping to renovate her crumbling two-story mansion, Nyan Win said.

A Myanmar refugee living in Malaysia releases a pigeon during an event to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, June 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

The tight security surrounding Suu Kyi’s home allowed the delivery of a birthday cake and a bouquet of roses, orchids and lilies sent by political supporters. Members of her National League for Democracy party are planting 20,000 trees around the country, mostly on the grounds of Buddhist monasteries, to mark the occasion.

A confidante, Win Tin, made an impassioned plea for Suu Kyi’s release.

“To the international community I want to reiterate her words: ‘Please use your liberty to promote ours,'” said Win Tin, who co-founded the party with Suu Kyi and himself spent nearly 20 years jailed as a political prisoner.

A Myanmar refugee in a traditional costume holds a candle during an event to celebrate the 65th birthday of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, June 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Global condemnation over her imprisonment has failed to change the junta’s harsh attacks on all dissent or soften their stance on Suu Kyi, whose steely grace, charisma and popularity have remained in tact despite her long confinement.

Ahead of historic elections planned for later this year, Suu Kyi remains the biggest threat to the ruling junta. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been dominated by military rule since 1962.

The vote will be the first in two decades. Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won the last election in 1990, but was never allowed to take power.

A protester eats a birthday cake during a rally outside the Myanmar Embassy at Manila’s financial district of Makati, Philippines, Friday, June 18, 2010. The protesters called for the release of Myanmar’s detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who turns 65 on Saturday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Obama praised Suu Kyi’s “determination, courage and personal sacrifice in working for human rights and democratic change in Burma inspire all of us who stand for freedom and justice.”

“I once again call on the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners,” Obama said in a statement.

The U.N. chief said he remains “deeply concerned” that Suu Kyi is still under house arrest.

“I have been persistently, consistently demanding that all the political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should be released without condition as soon as possible so that they would be able to participate in the political process,” Ban said. Daw is a term of respect in Myanmar.

British Ambassador to Indonesia Martin Hatfull speaks to the media against a background of a large banner of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a press conference outside the British Embassy in Jakarta , Indonesia, Friday, June 18, 2010. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who will celebrate her 65th birthday on Saturday, has been detained by the country’s military ruler for 14 of the past 20 years. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana )

In Britain, where concern for the jailed democracy leader runs high, Prime Minister David Cameron wrote Suu Kyi an open letter telling her that he had “long found your example deeply inspiring.”

“The injustice of your continuing detention mirrors the injustice that the regime has inflicted on your country and your people for so many years,” Cameron wrote.

Britain’s Foreign Office encouraged people from around the world to post birthday greetings on Facebook that British diplomats have pledged to pass on to Suu Kyi’s representatives.

Refugee children from Myanmar hold posters of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as they sing a song during an event to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Suu Kyi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, June 18, 2010. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will celebrate her 65th birthday on Saturday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Under new election laws, Suu Kyi and other political prisoners – estimated at more than 2,000 – are effectively barred from taking part in the polls. The NLD has called the laws unfair and undemocratic and is boycotting the vote, which critics have dismissed as a sham designed to cement military rule. The party was disbanded after refusing to register for the elections by a May 6 deadline.

A refugee from Myanmar wears a T-shirt with a print of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she sings a song during an event to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, June 18, 2010. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will celebrate her 65th birthday on Saturday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

Suu Kyi’s detention was extended by 18 months in August 2009 when she was convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest by briefly harboring an American intruder. The sentence will keep her locked away during the elections.

Birthday candles are lit in front of an image of Myanmar’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a small party of her 65th birthday at a home of a member of her party National League for Democracy Party Friday, June. 18, 2010 in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

Activists and politicians have rallied from Sydney to Brussels to wish the opposition leader a happy birthday and demand her release. More candlelight vigils, concerts and Buddhist prayer ceremonies were planned later Saturday in European and American cities.

Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok , Rohan Sullivan in Sydney, Raphael Satter in London and Aoife White in Brussels contributed to this report.

The Associated Press

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jun/19/myanmars-aung-san-suu-kyi-turns-65-in-confinement/

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

Expert Analysis: Nuclear Related Activities in Burma

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This post is copied from Burma Digest.

Expert Analysis

Nuclear Related Activities in Burma

May 2010

Robert E. Kelley(1)

Ali Fowle(2)

For the Democratic Voice of Burma ©

………………………..

Nuclear Related Activities in Burma

Introduction

The Democratic Voice of Burma has been accumulating information about a nuclear program in Burma for years, but recently they have come across a source with truly extraordinary information.  He worked in special factories making prototype components for missile and nuclear programs.  Like the Israeli technician, Mordecai Vanunu, he has brought hundreds of color photographs of the activities inside these factories.  DVB has asked us to organize this information and analyze what it means.  The goal of this report is to report our findings to DVB in support of their documentary film on Al Jazeera.  We are also providing a great deal of raw data for the nonproliferation community to assess.

Burma is one of the world’s most repressive regimes.  It is ruled by a junta of generals who have been in power for decades.  These generals seem to have no political philosophy, such as socialism or fascism, only pure simple greed.  To remain in power they depend on a brutal secret police and suspension of most human rights.  With the passage of time they seek more ways to hang onto power as their wealth grows ever larger and the dissatisfaction of the population threatens to oust them.

There are many signs that Burma looks to maintain power by having military power that would make foreign intervention very painful for an aggressor.  The power may not be necessarily aimed at aggression by Burma on its neighbors; rather it is a defensive power that signals its neighbors to leave them alone.  The model for this is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, commonly known as North Korea.  North Korea is too poor to threaten anyone except its immediate neighbors but its possession of nuclear weapons inhibits any outside intervention in its repressive regime.

There are many reports of a nuclear program in Burma.(3)  Most of them have been sketchy and in some cases technically incredible.  Now the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has assembled a huge new body of information that confirms many sources that Burma is investigating nuclear technology.  The majority of the new information comes from one source, which is always a concern for credibility.  This source is an educated man, a former Burmese Army Major, Sai Thein Win (STW), who understands what he knows and separates his information into what he knows well and what is hearsay.  He has a good sense of the organization of Burma’s special military programs and is much more of an expert on their missile projects than he is on nuclear matters.  His information on nuclear program organization is impressive and it correlates well with information from other published and unpublished sources.  But the most important thing he has brought forth is hundreds of color photographs taken inside critical facilities in Burma.  Photographs could be faked, but there are so many and they are so consistent with other information and within themselves that they lead to a high degree of confidence that Burma is pursuing nuclear technology.  Our analysis leads to only one conclusion: this technology is only for nuclear weapons and not civilian use or nuclear power.

Background and Organization of a Program

There is very little doubt that Burma has a nuclear program.  It is headed by Dr. Ko Ko Oo who has attended meetings abroad and openly asserts his interest in nuclear matters.  This program has a small connection to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.  The ties to IAEA are in mostly in civil matters such as the use of isotopes in medicine and agriculture, but there are also training courses for Burmese scientists in nuclear technology.  Burma does not have any declared nuclear facilities and it claims to have little or no nuclear material.(4) This situation means that the IAEA does not conduct any inspections in Burma because both sides have agreed there is nothing to inspect.  The situation with IAEA will be explained in more detail later in this paper.

Currently Burma’s nuclear effort is managed by the Directorate of Defence Services Science and Technology Research Center (DDSSTRC).  This organization is located in May Myo, also called Pyin Oo Lwin at the Defense Services Technological Academy (DSTA).  It is a large complex for the education of military officers and for research.  It is primarily a headquarters site and probably does not conduct experimental research, at least with nuclear materials or explosives.

Figure 1.  Defense Services Technological Academy at Pyin Oo Lwin

The scientific side of the nuclear program is run by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), headed by Minister U Thang.  Beneath Thang is the Director General of MOST, Dr. Ko Ko Oo.  Dr. Ko Ko Oo is the most public face of MOST and its nuclear activities.  An example is an invitation to a June 2010 training course sponsored by IAEA where Dr. Ko Ko Oo is the addressee to choose participants from Burma.(5)  It is vital to note that Dr. Ko Ko Oo has also served as director of the Department of Technical and Vocational Education (DTVE), which is a front for military procurement activities.  It will become clear later in this report that DTVE has been purchasing equipment for the nuclear and missile programs.  There is also a Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in Burma.  The DTVE and DAE at one point shared an address, phone number and fax number according to an excellent and detailed report by Andrea Stricker of ISIS.(6)  In 2002 Dr. Ko Ko Oo gave his email address at DAE in his personal data at a conference.(7)

The DDSSTRC is responsible for a program, which according to sources, is charged with building a nuclear reactor, enriching uranium, and building a nuclear weapon.  It is clear that this is a very difficult task for Burma to successfully accomplish.  Much of what STW is providing suggests Burma has little chance of succeeding in its quest, but that does not change the fact that even trying to build a bomb is a serious violation of its international agreements.  It would also seem that the very act of trying to build nuclear weapons is a sign of desperation and fear, no matter how unlikely it is to succeed.

Thabeikkyin

Our assessment of multiple sources is that Burma is really developing nuclear technology, that it has built specialized equipment and facilities, and it has issued orders to a cadre to build a program.  The cadre in charge is known as the Number 1 Science and Technology Regiment at Thabeikkyin.(8)  It is colloquially referred to as the “Nuclear Battalion” and we will adopt that term as well.   Major General Sein Win and Lt.-Col. Win Ko have signed a document directing a special factory to produce a part for the No. (1) Scientific and Technology Regiment.

This document is important and will surface again when we look at equipment that is needed for the Nuclear Battalion.  There are many reported activities at Thabeikkyin.  Previous reports have associated it with mining or ore concentration.  This latest source goes further and describes it as a site where “dangerous” ore is brought and stored.  He also believes that the site is involved in trying to produce “yellowcake” but he is not sure what this material is or if they have been successful.

In Google Earth imagery we can see a small ore concentration plant and ore reserve about 7 miles east of the Irrawaddy at Thabeikkyin.  This is very close to the point he describes.  A group of buildings with one thickener and a tailings pond are visible.  There is a pile of ore nearby.  This could be a uranium ore concentration plant, consistent with multiple source reports of uranium mining in this general area.  The mine itself has not been found.

Figure 2.  A small ore concentration plant is visible at the location of Thabeikkyin given by the latest source.

STW visited Thabeikkyin on two occasions, in 2006 and 2007 and reported on the following points.  The first and most important is that the mission is to build a nuclear reactor and to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.  There is considerable research work at the site devoted to this end.  It is not clear that either the reactor or enrichment plant would actually be built, possibly only designed here.

He did not visit the ore plant but he did visit laboratories in small buildings for a demonstration to General Mg Aye.  He saw two demonstrations of technology.  The first was a powerful laser, reportedly a carbon-monoxide (CO) laser that was used to burn a hole in a stick.  The beam was a small red spot.  One of his colleagues later confided to him that CO laser beams are invisible so the spot was not from that laser, but maybe a guide or pointing laser.  The audience of military offices was very impressed.

The top general in the country, Than Shwe attended a second demonstration on a subsequent visit:  a “control rod drive.”  This consisted of a microprocessor moving a control element up and down in a laboratory.  This sounds like an extremely simple task and not very impressive but again the military officers were pleased.  Sai, without prompting gave a technically credible explanation of how a control rod affects the criticality of a reactor by absorbing neutrons.  Otherwise we would not be so sure that the demonstration he saw had any nuclear application.

STW told us that Dr. Ni Lar Tin was the scientist who explained to the group how a control rod works.  A Dr. Daw(9) Nilar Tin is active and visible in the DAE and MOST.(10)

STW can give the names of a few researchers at Thabeikkyin.  Details of the technology are in a later section of this analysis.

The Factories

The Nuclear Battalion controls two important factories.  These factories are dedicated to making prototypes and special components for the missile and nuclear programs.

Number (1) Science and Technological Material Production Workshop will be abbreviated as “Factory 1” in this report.  It is located east of Pyin Oo Lwin (also known as Maymyo.)  It was purposely built for the military research programs.  Factory 1 has been more closely associated with the nuclear program than the missile program but has worked for both. It is also known by the name Naung Laing.

Figure 3.  Factory 1 is east of Pyin Oo Lwin

Factory 1 has been the subject of internet discussion in such forums as the Arms Control Wonk, where it was the subject of intense speculation as a reactor.(11)  DVB has many pictures of Factory 2 under construction that can be correlated to satellite imagery, as well as the exterior of Factory 1 after completion.  It is a certainty that this is a machine tool factory and not a reactor.(12)

Number (2) Science and Technological Material Production Workshop, “Factory 2,” is located near Myaing in the western part of Burma.  This factory is supposedly almost identical to Factory 1 but it is more tied to the Burmese missile program.  That program is allegedly planning to make prototype parts for SCUD liquid fueled missiles.  Burma has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DPRK on producing SCUDs so it is not unreasonable to consider there is a link between Factory 2 and the DPRK MOU.

Figure 4.  Factory 2 near Myaing

Figure 5.  Factory 2 under construction in a photo provided by STW

The western world and DVB know a great deal about the equipment and capability inside these two buildings.  A great deal of the equipment in the buildings is large scale, precision, Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools.  These tools are largely of German and Swiss origin, along with some measuring equipment from Japan.

Figure 6.  Layout of Machine Tools in Factory 1 from a visitors’ orientation display

The companies which sold this equipment to Burma presumed it was being sold for educational or civilian purposes.  The customer for the purchase was the DTVE.  There was no derogatory information about DTVE at the time so the sale was allowed.  Nevertheless, the companies did not sell the latest and best 4 and 5 axis machine tools.  Instead they removed some of these capabilities.  To verify the end-use of the equipment, the German government sent an expert in machine tools along with diplomatic representatives to the factories.  The expert examined the tools and made a number of observations, most of which were incompatible with the claim that the factories were just university training centers:

  • • The factories are far from any universities or students
  • • There were no females working or studying
  • • The equipment was extremely large for normal machinist training
  • • No military personnel were observed(13)

There are multiple correlations between satellite imagery, end-user verification, and photos of equipment being installed by German technicians, and even photos of the expert and the diplomat during end-user verification inspections.  STW served one and one half years as an army major and deputy director in Factory 2 and then a few months in Factory 1 in the same capacity.

Figure 7.  Shipping crate for machine tool delivered to Factory 1 in the name of DTVE

He indicated that many of the German tools were unusable due to damage and poor maintenance.  Photos of equipment show rust, rat droppings and damaged hydraulic and electrical lines.

Figure 8.  Electrical discharge machine tool display for VIP visit

Training in Russia

STW has an interesting background, according to his interviews with us and with the DVB.  He received an engineering degree from the DSTA.  He joined the military and later was chosen to go to Moscow for additional training in missile technology in 2001.  He was in the first group of students going to Russia, a fact which has been widely reported in other sources.  Sai describes how he had to appear to be a civilian for this Russian training, and so he was given a false graduation certificate from Yangon University to show to the Russians.  He still has both Burmese certificates as well as a Russian certificate from the N. E. Bauman Institute, Moscow State Technical University (MSTU).  This is a respected Russian university where he studied many aspects of missile technology.  Upon return to Burma he was assigned to the Headquarters of DDSSTRC for a year.   He then was assigned to Factory 2, while it was under construction and worked primarily on missiles.  An example is that he programmed the CNC machines to make a prototype impeller designed at DDSSTRC; however, the impeller quality was unacceptable due to the limitations of the machine tool.

Figure 9.  The missile impeller as manufactured at Factory 2

Sai was part of a group which received missile training.  Another group, where he also had friends, was sent to Russia at the same time, circa 2001, for training in nuclear technology.  Many were trained at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute known by its Russian acronym, MIFI.  This university specializes in the nuclear side of technology, such as mathematics, physics, computer codes and theory.  At one time it was the primary training school for the Soviet nuclear weapons experts.  Other Burmese students went to the Mendeleev Moscow Chemical Engineering Institute.  This university trained the Burmese in chemical technologies related to activities such as the production of uranium compounds to be used in the nuclear fuel cycle.

After all of the students returned from Russia, STW lost direct contact with them, but he knew that the mechanical engineers with nuclear training went to Factory 1 and the ones with more specific nuclear training went to the Nuclear Battalion at Thabeikkyin.  There are still Burmese military students in Russia today.

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle

All of the new information brought out in photographs pertains to chemical processing.  There are no pictures of nuclear bombs or reactors and only a tiny bit allegedly on Laser Isotope Separation (LIS).  The information is all related to the chemical side of the nuclear fuel cycle.  The technologies of interest are the following.

Step Activity
1 Uranium Mining
2 Uranium Ore Concentration
3 Yellowcake Production
4 Uranium Oxides Production
5 Uranium Tetrafluoride Production (UF4)
6 Uranium Hexafluoride (UF6)
7 Enrichment
Gas Centrifuges Or Molecular Laser Isotope Separation
8 Reduction of UF6 to UF4
9 Bomb reduction of UF4 with magnesium to uranium metal

Equipment Built at Factory 1 for the Nuclear Battalion

(Step numbers refer to the fuel cycle diagram above.)

Bomb Reactor (Step 9)

The bomb reactor is easy to recognize from its properties and from the fact that STW supplied a letter from the Nuclear Battalion to Factory 1 requesting a “bomb reactor.”  The bomb reactor was to be used by the “special substance production research department.”  This group is located at Technological workshop (5), whose location we do not know.

“Bomb Reactor” is an unfortunate pair of words in the nuclear context.  The object is not a “nuclear bomb” and it is not a “nuclear reactor.”  It is simply a very strong vessel to contain a violent chemical reaction.  Hence it is a bomb in its strength and shape, and a reactor for containing the reaction of UF4 and magnesium (or calcium) metal inside.  The term bomb reactor is synonymous with “bomb reduction vessel” or even “reduction vessel.”  This terminology is much less emotive.

Figure 10.  Original letter from the Nuclear Battalion directing Factory 1 to build a “Bomb Reactor”

Secret

[Stamp of No (1) Science and Technology Regiment

Ministry of Defence]

No (1) Science and Technology Regiment

Thabeikkyin

Letter no. 1003/99/research/ Oo 3

Date, 2010 February 4

To

Army Science and Technological Research Department

Subject: Requesting the continuation of supply for materials needed for research

  1. 1. Request No (1) Science and Technological material production workshop to make Bomb Reactor needed for research material for the use of special substance production research department at technological workshop (5).
  2. 2. Send and report the formation/prototype data of Bomb Reactor needed to be made, as in Appendix (A)

Lt-Col Win Ko

  • – (Please) carry it out.
  • – Calculate necessity

(Signed)

Chief of HQs (On behalf of)

(Signature)

Secret

Figure 11.  Translation of the Letter

Figure 12.  Sketch for building the bomb reactor

One thing that will jump out at the experienced reader is that there are no tolerances or materials listed on this sketch.  The source himself noted that the drawings from the Nuclear Battalion were very unprofessional.  This factors into our assessment that the Burmese nuclear program is quite primitive.

Figure 13.  Two bomb reactors, one used and one new

The finished bomb reactors are pictured side by side in this image from Factory 1.  One of the reactors has obviously been subjected to great heat and is discolored and paint has burned off as it would be if it had been used to reduce metal.  The other is new.  There is an image of the two vessels in a packing crate being received from the Nuclear Battalion, so for some reason an unused vessel is being returned with an older one.  STW did not see these vessels, only the photo, so he was not aware of any health and safety precautions. There are no safety precautions such as contamination control in any image of the factories that we have seen.

There is no information about ceramic crucibles, boosters, igniters or such things.  The factory simply built the items and shipped them elsewhere for use.  A rough estimate of the amount of metal that could be produced in this reactor is about 20 – 25 kg.  That would be criticality safe and could be used for natural or enriched metal.

Bomb reduction is done in other industries besides nuclear but it is relatively rare.  The technology was widely developed during the Manhattan project to make uranium metal for reactor fuel and for weapons in ton quantities.  A bomb reactor built by a special factory, subordinate to the Army Nuclear Battalion is a very good indicator of a nuclear program in the context of many other things.

Inert Atmosphere Glove Box (Step 9)

STW described the construction of a simple vacuum glove box produced at Factory 1.  The box was used to mix two materials together when one of them was highly susceptible to oxidation.  He describes evacuating the box and backfilling it with inert argon for the mixing to take place.  Our interpretation for this glove box is that it is used for mixing UF4 with magnesium metal for the bomb reduction to uranium metal.

Figure 14.  Inert Atmosphere glove box.  Vacuum pump is behind the man on the right.

Vacuum glove boxes are not an everyday item in industry.  This one is quite crude but STW’s description of it being used to mix readily oxidizing chemicals is certainly credible.  He also noted it would be cheaper to buy a glove box like this than it would be to make it.  Possibly this was because the project was classified.

Inconel Tube Fluoride Bed Reactor (Step 6)

Factory 1 put a lot of effort into building a “fluoride bed reactor”.  It is shown in the next figures.  STW did not know the materials that were used, but the photo was found on a CD in a file marked “Inconel.”

Inconel © is a nickel based alloy used in nuclear industry applications where fluorine or hydrogen fluoride (HF) is used in the process.  Fluorine is highly corrosive and destroys steels at high temperatures, such as in furnaces.  Inconel is also used in a variety of other applications ranging from the natural gas industry, to turbine blades and even Formula One racing car exhausts.  So the use of Inconel is not a unique signature of nuclear fuel cycle use.

The terminology used by this source, “fluoride bed reactor” does offer more clues.  It would seem that fluorine is involved and fluorine is a component of the nuclear fuel cycle and a very corrosive one.  UF6 can be produced by placing UF4 powder in a fluidized bed reactor and agitating it in a high temperature section by a stream of fluorine gas.  It is likely that the assembly shown in the figure is the entire fluidized bed reactor.  The can at the bottom collects solids that are not fluorinated and are not wanted in the product.  The size of this reactor suggests a prototype or pilot plant size.

Figure 15.  The “fluoride bed reactor” assembly. Note the Trumabend V-130 machine on the right and the Trumatic L 3030 laser cutting machine in the background and compare to Figure 6, the shop layout of Factory 1.

Figure 16.  Internal components of the “Fluoride Bed Reactor”

Figure 17.  Presumed Inconel tube with the section surrounded by the furnace in the previous figures

Tube Furnaces (Step 5)

STW had only seen drawings of these tubes but he believed that they were for the carbon monoxide (CO) laser at Thabeikkyin.  That is certainly a possibility but they appear more likely to be tube furnaces for the fluorination of solid uranium oxide powder to solid UF4powder.  They are certainly tubes that have been heated and there are metal “boats” for holding powder to be reacted.  Two have been subjected to heat and one appears to be new.  This would be step 5 in the fuel cycle diagram above.

Figure 18.  Two used tube furnaces and one new one

Nitrogen Tank with steel Collectors (Step 6)

An interesting item fabricated in Factory 1 is a “Steel Collectors and Nitrogen Container” (their terminology).  From its design it looks like an attempt to build a cold trap to catch UF6 gas on high surface area plates with very cold liquid nitrogen as the refrigerant.

Figure 19.  Possible cold trap assembly for collecting UF6 gas

Other equipment

Other items include a large mixer “Water Reduced Tank”, an “Automatic Autoclave Sterilizer”, and a “Burning Chamber”.  These are not particularly unique or part of the nuclear fuel cycle.  The burning chamber is shown in the next figure, only because it illustrates the crude workmanship of the items seen.

Figure 20.  This object, described only as a burning chamber is rather crude

Figure 21.  “Water Reduced Tank” which appears to be a simple mixer

Reports of a Nuclear Reactor

The open source literature is filled with reports of a nuclear reactor in Burma.  We are tempted to believe that this could be layman’s confusion over a nuclear program in general, because uninformed sources can be very loose with terminology.  One thing is clear, that many people have heard of a Russian plan to sell a reactor to Burma around 2001.  It is very clear that the reactor was never sold and it seems unlikely that Russia would do so today.  Russia’s ROSATOM did announce intent to sell a reactor to Burma in 2007, but this deal has not been consummated owing to financial and practical legal issues.(14)  An absolute condition for Russia to sell a 10 MW research reactor would be that Burma sign the “Additional Protocol” with IAEA.(15)  The Additional Protocol is a voluntary addendum to an existing safeguards agreement such as the standard INFCIRC type 153 agreement in force with Burma today.  The Additional Protocol provides the IAEA with greater rights to ask for details of existing declared facilities (there are none in Burma so far) and greater rights to probe into undeclared activities of the type we are alleging.  100 countries in the world have agreed to an Additional Protocol.(16)  Unfortunately, some critical ones, such as Syria, have not.  With the many open source claims that Burma has a covert nuclear program, this might not be the time they would agree to sign.  The Russians should not even consider selling a reactor to a state with weak and obsolete IAEA agreements.

In addition, a 10 MW nuclear reactor is a very small reactor, suited mainly for producing medical isotopes, conducting nuclear physics experiments, and training engineers and technicians in nuclear technology that could eventually be used to build a larger reactor.  A 10 MW reactor is a very poor source of plutonium and is of little interest in most countries inspected by the IAEA today.  It would be inspected and monitored on a routine basis and misuse would be difficult.

Therefore, reports that a reactor has been sold and that Burma is building a 10 MW reactor on its own seem far fetched and pointless.

What is of far greater concern is the possible tie to the DPRK.  Some sources, albeit not well-vetted, allege that DPRK technicians are helping to build a reactor in Burma.  This immediately brings to mind the 2007 bombing of a facility in Syria that allegedly was a DPRK designed plutonium production reactor.  This highlights the fact that DPRK is willing to build at least one reactor outside its own territory. Thus, any rumored activity in Burma should be taken seriously.  So far no sources have given adequate coordinates to locate a suspected nuclear reactor in Burma but this is a high priority item for more information.

Report of Laser Isotope Separation

The DVB source provided a great deal of information on a Laser Isotope Separation (LIS) program at the Nuclear Battalion.  From the outset we will readily agree with critics that a laser isotope separation program is far beyond the capabilities of Burma with its poor technical resources.  Nevertheless STW has a lot of details about the program, and if Burma chooses to spend its resources in this way it is heartening to those who wish them to fail.

Laser isotope separation has been a huge research program in many countries, such as the US, UK, France, Russia, Germany, South Africa, Australia and probably others.  None of these advanced industrial countries has succeeded in making significant amounts of enriched uranium at anything close to a competitive price.

There are two common approaches to Laser Isotope Separation.  This is an overly detailed topic for this paper and will be summarized.  STW had been clearly told that he was to make some precision nozzles for a supersonic carbon monoxide (CO) laser that would be used in the LIS process.  Carbon dioxide (CO2) and CO lasers are normally associated with the Molecular Laser Isotope Separation (MLIS) process.  This process uses UF6 as the chemical working substance, the same as centrifuge enrichment.  STW was asked to machine many prototype nozzles for the lasers, in batches of ten or so.  He remembers them because they were difficult to make and required electrical discharge machining, one of his special skills.  A sketch of a nozzle is seen in the next figure.  Note again that the sketch is not a proper engineering drawing, lacking tolerances other information.

Figure 22.  Sketch of a proposed nozzle made at Factory 1 allegedly for a supersonic CO laser

It is our view that the LIS process is far beyond the technical capabilities that we have seen elsewhere in Burma.  This technology proved too complex and expensive for several industrialized states.  It is common, however, in the developing world for scientists educated in universities in industrialized countries, to return home and sell high technology programs to government bureaucrats.  The explanation here is probably simply that some academics have foisted this project off on the government so they can do research and publish, knowing that they will not succeed in the programmatic aim.

Report of Gas Centrifuge Program

STW heard reports of a gas centrifuge program.  One of his colleagues who studied nuclear technology at MIFI in Moscow said that the Nuclear Battalion was working on centrifuges, and if a plant was built it would be near Taunggyi.  The prototypes were being made of plastic as far as he knew.  No further information was available on this topic.

As an aside, when STW was discussing his military training in the 1990s, he mentioned fiber composites.  He was aware of a military program to manufacture rocket bodies from some type of fiber.  His military instructor had told the students that the process was not reliable because the tubes “vibrated too much”.  He had no more information on this topic and he did not tie it to enrichment himself, only as an answer to what kind of materials might be used.

International Agreements

IAEA

Burma became a State Party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1992.  It acquired rights and obligations under this Treaty.  The agreement is known as Information Circular 477 (INFCIRC/477).(17)  In particular, Burma signed a Small Quantities Protocol with the IAEA in 1995.  This stipulates that Burma has no nuclear facilities and only small quantities of nuclear materials.

Important nuclear facilities are defined by the IAEA as:(18)

A. Power reactors

B. Research Reactors and Critical Assemblies

C. Conversion Plants

D. Fuel Fabrication Plants

E.  Reprocessing Plants

F. Enrichment (isotope separation plants)

Nuclear materials are defined essentially as plutonium and uranium, including enriched uranium, uranium-233, and uranium source materials.(19)  The precise definitions are complex and are left to the interested reader.

Small quantities are defined as less than:

(a) One kilogram in total of special fissionable material, which may

consist of one of more of the following:

(i) Plutonium;

(ii) Uranium with an enrichment of 0.2 (20%) and above, taken

account of by multiplying its weight by its enrichment; and

(iii) Uranium with an enrichment below 0.2 (20%) and above

that of natural uranium, taken account of by multiplying its weight

by five times the square of its enrichment;

(b) Ten metric tons in total of natural uranium and depleted uranium

with an enrichment above 0.005 (0.5%);

(c) Twenty metric tons of depleted uranium with an enrichment of

0.005 (0.5%) or below; and

(d) Twenty metric tons of thorium.

These limits appear complex, but the one of main interest is (b), ten metric tons of natural uranium.  If Burma is operating an ore concentration plant and producing yellowcake it will have to consider this limit.

Burma is bound to report the import or export of nuclear materials even in small quantities, or if it acquires materials in excess of the limit.  If it constructs a nuclear facility it must notify IAEA six months before receiving nuclear material for it. An R&D facility operating a single centrifuge on UF6 gas would have to be reported to the IAEA as an enrichment plant, as would plants for testing uranium conversion.

In addition, “in its efforts to promote wider adherence to the IAEA’s strengthened safeguards system, the IAEA has invited Myanmar [sic] to conclude an additional protocol (AP) to its safeguards agreement and to amend its small quantities protocol in line with the revised text approved by the IAEA Board of Governors in September 2005. Concluding an additional protocol would grant the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites.”(20)

In other words, the IAEA conducts no safeguards inspections in Burma at the present time and would have no right or obligation to do so unless Burma notifies the IAEA of a change in status.  Clearly Burma has not done that up to this time.  Note that other elements of the IAEA do interact with Burma and carry out visits.

These have to do with IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation grant programs in medicine and other civilian nuclear technologies(21) and a program to establish a nuclear science and technical training center for scientists, engineers, technicians and graduate students.(22)  In a support program that IAEA ran from 2001 to 2010, IAEA noted:

The Ministry of Science and Technology of Myanmar is interested in promoting the application of nuclear techniques. The development of human resources is one of the top priorities of the Ministry. The nuclear programme in Myanmar depended on a small aging core of foreign trained scientists and engineers, and training provided to local staff was almost entirely through International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assistance.

IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy also reportedly visited to give advice on whether Burma had sufficient technical ability to run the nuclear reactor that Russia planned to sell.  They reportedly advised that Burma was not ready for this technical challenge.  It is also notable that not all training is in the civilian area.  Two Myanmar researchers in 2003 and 2005, respectively, participated in six-month programs at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in the fields of research reactor technology and advanced spent fuel management, which is inconsistent with their lack of declared nuclear fuel cycle programs.(23)

End User Certification

The DTVE purchased equipment for two factories and claimed to the vendors that it was for educational, non-military use.  Based upon STW’s evidence, military personnel work in the facilities making prototype parts for weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.  It would therefore seem appropriate to sanction the DVTE and entities associated with it such as DAE and MOST from any further purchases of manufacturing, machining and inspection equipment on the basis of a false end-user certification.  This would include spare parts and assistance for the machines already acquired.  States participating in, for example, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) should be advised of these findings.

ASEAN and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

Burma is a signatory to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.  Any undertaking to produce nuclear weapons would also be a violation of that agreement.(24)

Conclusions

A single source, a former major in the Burmese Army, has come to the Democratic Voice of Burma with a large volume of information purporting to show missile and nuclear activities in Burma up until the present.  The first question that interested observers will ask is about the credibility of the information.  The source and DVB have strong feelings about the regime.  Their objectivity can be called into question and so they have asked us to do this independent assessment of the information.

The following points show the overall consistency of the information.  But each reader will have to make up his or her own mind.

  • • Sai was well-positioned to acquire information.  He was an army major, trained in military science with further training in Russia.  He reports credibly about his education at the Bauman Institute in Moscow and on colleagues who studied at MIFI and Mendeleev Institute.
  • • Many source reports describe the additional training of young military officers in elite Russian universities. This is more quantitative and first-hand than many other open source statements.
  • • The source was a deputy manager in two factories producing parts for missiles and nuclear programs.
  • • These factories are well-known.  There have been end-user certification visits to both and the details of machine tools dates and customers match.  There are photographs of tools and the European installers and inspectors.  The German en- user expert did not see military personnel but noted discrepancies in the Burmese story that DTVE operated the factories for student training.
  • • The source visited Thabeikkyin with two general officers and saw crude demonstrations of alleged nuclear technology.
  • • A “Nuclear Battalion” at Thabeikkyin has been reported by other sources in sketchy detail.  This new information allows more investigation especially using satellite imagery.
  • • The source reported that uranium ore was being processed at Thabeikkyin and that it was hazardous to health.
  • • Other sources mention Thabeikkyin in very general terms and also claim that the reactor might be built there.  One satellite image shows a small ore concentration plant on a pond and piles of earthen materials nearby.  This is not proof of a uranium plant, but consistent.
  • • The source provided a document about a “bomb reactor” being built for the Nuclear Battalion at Thabeikkyin along with several photos.
  • • The object certainly looks like a bomb reduction vessel and one of the two seen has been subjected to high temperatures.
  • • Other equipment, notably an inert atmosphere glove box for mixing reactive chemicals, a “fluoride bed reactor,” UF6 cold trap and tube furnaces are all components of a possible program to make uranium compounds for a weapons development effort.
  • • This is consistent with a program to make UF6 for enrichment by MLIS or centrifuge and uranium metal for a possible bomb core.

From all of the above we conclude that it is likely that Burma is trying to attempt many of the nuclear program steps reported by previous sources.  Unrealistic attempts, such as the Molecular Laser Isotope Separation project, unprofessional engineering drawings and the crude appearance of items in photos, suggest that success may be beyond Burma’s reach.

Nevertheless, the intent is clear and that is a very disturbing matter for international agreements.  If experiments with uranium are taking place, or significant quantities of uranium compounds are being produced, then Burma needs to be reporting to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which clearly it is unlikely to do if it is planning a covert nuclear reactor, an enrichment program and a weapon.

The authenticity of the photographs and reports will no doubt be questioned.  That is fair and professional.  The purpose of this report is to inform and generate thoughtful analysis.  The source and chain of custody of this information is clearer than the recent “laptop documents” about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon program, for example, and that has generated considerable analysis and speculation.  Undated and unsourced photos of a reactor under construction in Syria are largely unchallenged.  It would seem reasonable to question the authorities in Burma and to hear their explanations.

If, Burma denies the authenticity of this information, then time will be the judge.  If the authorities deny the information and then are found to have not told the truth, the international reaction should be swift and severe so that Burma does not reach the immunity that DPRK has acquired with its nuclear weapons program.

End Notes

(1) Consultant to the Democratic Voice of Burma

(2) Editor and Research Assistant, Democratic Voice of Burma

(3) Such as: “Burma’s Nuclear Secrets”, The Sydney Morning Herald, August 1, 2009: http://www.smh.com.au/world/burmax2019s-nuclear-secrets-20090731-e4fv.html

(4) There are legal definitions of “nuclear facilities” and “nuclear materials” in the IAEA statute and IAEA Information Circular INFCIRC/153.  Burma has not declared any materials in these categories, and short of allegations that we and others are making, there are no legally declared nuclear facilities or materials in Burma.

(5)Prospectus, IAEA/RCA Training Course on Reporting in Advanced Clinical Applications of Positron Emission Tomography (PET), 29 March 2010, http://www.rcaro.org/board/data/rca_whatisnew/6049RTC16AUG10AUL.pdf

(6)Deep Connections between Myanmar’s Department of Technical and Vocational Education and Department of Atomic Energy, Andrea Scheel Stricker, January 28, 2010, http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Myanmar_DAE_DTVE_28January2010.pdf

(7) MYANMAR Mr. Ko Ko Oo

Ministry of Science and Technology

6, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Yankin P.O., Yangon, Myanmar Tel: 95 1 664233

Fax: 95 1 650685

Email: dae.myatom@mptmail.net.mm

(8) Transliterations vary and not all places in this report will be written multiple ways.  Thabeikkyin is such an important site that it is important to know the alternative transliterations Tha Beik Kyin and Tha Peik Kyin.

(9) “Daw” is an honorific, not a name

(10) List of Participants, RCARO/KAERI Regional Training Workshop on Research Reactor Utilization and Radiation Application Technology, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, 12 ~ 23 October 2009

(11) For example, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/2407/big-odd-myanmar-box, 3 August 2009

(12) http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Burma_tunnels_3August2009.pdf

(13) DVB has carefully examined photographs and noted that personnel who wore civilian clothes during the German expert visit wear military uniforms when the Europeans are not there.

(14)Russia to build Nuclear Reactor in Myanmar, New Scientist and Reuters, 15 May 2007, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11856-russia-to-build-nuclear-reactor-in-myanmar.html

(15) IAEA INFCIRC/540

(16) Chad became the 100th State to complete an Additional Protocol on 13 May 2010

(17)AGREEMENT OF 20 APRIL 1995 BETWEEN THE UNION OF MYANMAR AND THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY FOR THE APPLICATION OF SAFEGUARDS IN CONNECTION WITH THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Information Circular 477.

(18)THE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT OF AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE AGENCY AND STATES REQUIRED IN CONNECTION WITH THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, INFCIRC/153 (Corrected), IAEA, June 1972

(19)”Nuclear material” means any source or any special fissionable material

as defined in Article XX of the Statute. The term source material shall not be

interpreted as applying to ore or ore residue.

(20) IAEA public information spokesman, 18 September 2009

(21) [1]Such as: Ministry of Science and Technology, MOST, Government of Burma,  IAEA Technical Cooperation Expert Mission to Dept. of Biotechnology, Yangon (IAEA project and task MYA/0/007-12) on Transfer of Molecular Market Technologies.  http://www.most.gov.mm/techuni/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=42

(22) TC Project MYA/0/007, Nuclear Science and Technology Training Centre, http://www-tc.iaea.org/tcweb/projectinfo/projectinfo_body.asp

(23) IAEA probes Myanmar data, discourages new research reactors, Mark Hibbs, Nuclear Fuel, August 10, 2009.

(24) Arms Control Association, Nuclear Weapon Free Zones at a Glance

…….

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Burma Junta Rejects Int’l Poll Monitors

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လိမ္ေပါင္းမ်ားေနၿပီျဖစ္တဲ့ နအဖ ေခါင္းေဆာင္ သန္းေရႊနဲ႔ လူမိုက္တစုက လာမယ့္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲမွာ ဆက္လိမ္ဖို႔ လုပ္ေနျပန္ၿပီ။

Burma Junta Rejects Int’l Poll Monitors

By AP Wednesday, May. 12, 2010

In this image made available by the United States Embassy in Rangoon, Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, center, meets with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, right, in Rangoon, Burma, Monday, May.10, 2010 (US Embassy ho / AP)

(RANGOON, Burma) — Burma’s military leaders have rejected international poll monitors for the country’s first elections in 20 years but asked for unspecified cooperation from the United States in supporting the vote, official media said Wednesday.

An official urged the U.S. to “show a positive attitude” about the military-organized vote, even though American envoy Kurt Campbell had already expressed deep concerns about the elections ahead of a recent visit. (See pictures of Burma’s decades-long battle for democracy.)

The polls, to be held sometime this year, have been sharply criticized as a means for the military to maintain its grip on power under a civilian guise.

During his trip, Campbell said that the run-up to the election so far leads the U.S. to believe the polls will “lack international legitimacy.” (See pictures of Burma’s slowly shifting landscape.)

“We urge the regime to take immediate steps to open the process in the time remaining before the elections,” he said.

Campbell asked if election monitors, possibly from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, would be allowed and was rebuffed.

“The nation has a lot of experience with elections. We do not need election watchdogs to come here,” the head of the Election Commission, Thein Soe, said.

“Arrangements have been made to ensure a free and fair election,” the election chief was quoted as telling Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

Campbell, who departed Burma on Monday after a two-day visit, met with several junta ministers as well as detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Details of his talks with junta officials were published in state-run newspapers Wednesday.

“We would like to receive your kind cooperation so that the election can be held peacefully and successfully,” Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told Campbell without elaboration.

Kyaw Hsan said that he welcomed Washington’s new policy of direct engagement with Burma and urged the United States to “show a positive attitude” toward the coming election.

Campbell’s visit, his second in six months, came just days after the dissolution of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, or NLD, which won the 1990 election but was never allowed to take power.

The NLD considers newly enacted election laws unfair and undemocratic — since Suu Kyi and other political prisoners would be barred from taking part in the vote — and so declined to reregister as required, which meant it was automatically disbanded.

Critics say the elections will be engineered so that military officers, a number of whom have already shed their uniform to enter politics, will be assured of victory.

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1988754,00.html

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 12, 2010 at 10:38 am