Robert Kelley, an American nuclear scientist and former director in the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Burma is mining uranium and acquiring components for a nuclear weapons program. But evidence documented in his report indicates the military regime is far from becoming a nuclear threat. Nevertheless, Kelley believes that the intent of the Burmese military is clear: to build a nuclear bomb.
Kelley has spent months scouring photographs and documents provided by a former Burmese defense engineer, Sai Thein Win, who recently fled the country. Kelley makes his case in a new report commissioned by the Burmese dissident group the Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Norway.
Journalists from the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) have been gathering information about secret military projects in Myanmar for years. But they say recent revelations of hundreds of files and other evidence provided by Sai Thein Win, a former defense engineer and missile expert, show that the military government is pushing ahead with ambitions to become a nuclear power.
In his analysis of Sai Thein Win’s evidence, Kelley acknowledged that a report based on one source is not ideal, and that it is possible to fake photographs. But he testifies to the credibility of the defector’s background and says it is appears the photographs are real because of their volume and quality.
Sai Thein Win was the deputy commander of a highly classified military factory that was the headquarters of the army’s nuclear battalion. But he says he decided to defect after seeing a previous report by the DVB about the Myanmar regime’s extensive network of secret underground bunkers and tunnels and bring top-secret evidence of the project with him.
“They really want a bomb, that is their main objective,” he says in the film about the Burmese military ambition produced by the DVB being aired by Al Jazeera.
On Thursday evening, shortly before the film was due to be broadcast, US Senator Jim Webb announced he was postponing his scheduled trip to Myanmar in response to allegations in the documentary.
“Until there is further clarification on these matters, I believe it would be unwise and potentially counterproductive for me to visit Burma,” Webb, who is the Democratic chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs, told reporters in Bangkok.
A United Nations report asserted last month that North Korea has been secretly exporting missile and nuclear technology to Burma.
“In many ways North Korea is a parallel to Burma,” the Centre for Arms Control’s John Isaacs says in the DVB film.
“It’s a poor country with a weak economy and starvation at home, and yet they manage to gather resources to build a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, the town and the house of Sai Thein Win have been under watch by the security since, said a local resident who wishes to remain in anonymous. All the family members of Sai Thein Win were summoned by the officers for interrogation.