December , 2010 -- Leaked cables point to Burmese nuclear program...
While the United States has been pressing Iran on its nuclear program, under pressure from the Israel Lobby, Burma, according to leaked State Department cables and previous WMR reports, has been acquiring its own nuclear capability, likely with the assistance of North Korea.
On December 18, 2009, WMR reported: "WMR's Asian intelligence sources report that Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and the U.S. embassy in Bangkok is pushing the weak Thai government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to provide more assistance for Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burmese border and permit more 'black ops' in the Thai military-run districts along the border. The targets for U.S. Special Operations forces are five uranium mines inside Burma, including two in the north of Burma near the Thai border. U.S. special operations teams want to use Kachin and Karen separatist insurgent groups in Burma to help gather intelligence on the Burmese uranium mining operations, as well as enrichment and weapons development.
There are fears that Burma's military junta is seeking to procure nuclear weapons, possibly with the assistance of North Korea. Massive tunnels have been detected being built in Burma and there are signs of increasing military cooperation, including nuclear cooperation, between Burma and North Korea. Earlier this year, details of the secret Project UF6 were leaked to the Thai press. Burma reportedly is constructing a nuclear reactor with North Korea's help, as well as plutonium enrichment facilities. Last year, Mizoram police in India arrested two individuals who were trying to smuggle uranium from Meghalaya in India to Burma. The Burmese military junta feels increasingly besieged by neighboring China and India and has, according to a number of sources, elected to use the 'North Korea option' and go nuclear in order to achieve security in an area dominated by rivals, including nuclear-armed India and China."
The following leaked cables from the US embassy in Rangoon confirm WMR's earlier report:
Tuesday, 20 January 2004, 09:44
S E C R E T RANGOON 000088
EO 12958 DECL: 01/09/2014 TAGS PGOV, PARM, PREL, BM, RS, KS, KNPP S
UBJECT: BURMA: RUMORS OF CONSTRUCTION OF A NUCLEAR REACTOR NEAR MINBU
REF: STATE 297614 AND PREVIOUS 03 RANGOON 1427 Classified By: COM Carmen Martinez for
Reasons 1.5 (B,D)
1. (S/NF) An expatriate businessmanXXXXXXXXXXXX recently volunteered
to an Embassy Officer that he had heard rumors that a nuclear reactor was being
built near Minbu, in central Magway Division on the Irawaddy River. The businessman
added that he personally had seen a "massive" barge containing large-sized rebar
being unloaded on a trip to the area. After asking local residents about the rebar's purpose, he was told that similar size barge shipments were arriving almost weekly and that the rebar was to be used in the construction of unnamed/unidentified factories. In the opinion of the businessman, the quantities involved as well as the diameter of the rebar suggested a project larger than "factories." Along these lines, the businessman noted that there was a new airport near Minbu with a landing strip that, based on its length and
thickness, seemed excessive, adding that "you could land the space shuttle on it."
2. (S/NF) Comment: Rumors of construction of a nuclear facility in/near Magway Division
date back to 2002 and generally refer to alleged Goverment of Burma (GOB)
and Russian cooperation on a nuclear research reactor project. Similar rumors, sans the
"Russia" angle, have been circulating with greater frequency within diplomatic and
expatriate circles since a November 2003 Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) article
which described signs of growing military ties between North Korea and Burma. While we
have no direct evidence of this alleged cooperation, rumors of ongoing construction of a
nuclear reactor are surprisingly consistent and observations of activity such as that described above appear to be increasing, as are alleged sightings of North Korean "technicians" inside Burma. Martinez
VZCZCXRO2269 OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH DE RUEHGO
#0105 0301023 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 301023Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5661
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1313
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0143
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 7241
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 4815
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 10:23 S E C R E T RANGOON 000105
SIPDIS SIPDIS STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP EO 12958 DECL: 01/11/2017 TAGS PARM, PREL, ETTC, MNUC, BM, CH
SUBJECT: BURMA XXXXXXXXXXXX REPORT SENSITIVE SHIPMENT Classified By: Econoff TLManlowe for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) Summary: Embassy contacts XXXXXXXXXXXX shared with us on
XXXXXXXXXXXX documents for 112 metric tons of "mixed ore" shipped on January
25 from Burma to China via Singapore. XXXXXXXXXXXX noticed that authorities treated
the shipment as highly sensitive, and suspect it may have included uranium. Our contact
had no direct evidence to support this claim. End summary.
2. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX, told emboffs that XXXXXXXXXXXX informed him they were suspicious about the behavior of authorities when handling a January 25 shipment of mixed ore from Rangoon. According XXXXXXXXXXXX, security was tighter than usual, surveillance
was heavier, and officials paid closer attention to the movement of the shipment and
activity at the port. XXXXXXXXXXXX also claimed that metals are usually exported in
blocks, whereas the bags in this shipment were filled with loose earth and mud. The
source of the mixed ore, Maw Chi, is also a source for uranium, they claimed.
XXXXXXXXXXXX said the destination in China, Fang Chen, and the shipping line,
Advance Container Lines, were unusual for routine ore shipments. Shipments normally go
to other ports in China via Myanmar Five Star Line, the government-owned shipping line,
according to them. The shipper, Myanmar Ruby Enterprise, is a joint venture, 30% owned
by the Ministry of Mines. XXXXXXXXXXXX
3. (S) Key information contained in the documents we have seen includes: Carrier:
Advance Container Lines Co., Ltd. Shipper: Myanmar Ruby Enterprise Address: No. 24/26
Sule Pagoda Road, Kyauktada Township, Rangoon Shipped from Rangoon: January 25, 2007
Vessel: Kota Teraju to Singapore Destination: Fang Chen, China Port of Discharge: Fang Chen, Guang Xi, China Consignee: Yunnan Minmetals Trading Co., Ltd. Address: F/8 No. (408) Beijing Road, Kuming, PR China Shipment: Six containers holding 3080 bags, 112.0049
net metric tons of Mawchi Mixed Ore: (tin, tungsten, scheelite mixed concentrate) Value:
534,263.37 euros. 4. (S) We have no further information about the shipment or the reliability of the documents.
We would be pleased to forward copies of the documents received to anyone interested. VILLAROSA
VZCZCXYZ0017 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHGO #0749/01 2670859 ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 230859Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8191
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 2005
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
Tuesday, 23 September 2008, 08:59 S E C R E T RANGOON 000749
SIPDIS FOR STATE ISN/CTR AND PM/ISO/PMAT (24/7) DEPT PLEASE PASS TO DEPT OF ENERGY EO 12958 DECL: 09/23/2018 TAGS KNNP, MNUC, PARM, KCRM, PTER, ASEC, KCOR, BM
SUBJECT: BURMESE CIVILIAN OFFERS TO SELL PURPORTED URANIUM 238 TO U.S. EMBASSY RANGOON, BURMA REF: A. 2007 STATE 162091 B. USDAO RANGOON IIR 6 812 0131 08 Classified By: CDA Larry Dinger for Reasons 1.4 (b and d)
1. (S//REL to USA, ACGU) Per Ref A, Post is alerting the Department and Washington agencies that on XXXXXXXXXXXX after USDAO Rangoon received guidance from DIA, a Burmese civilian met with members of USDAO Rangoon and offered to sell Uranium-238. The individual had initially contacted the USDAO eight days prior with the offer. The individual provided a small bottle half-filled with metallic powder and a photocopied certificate of testing from a Chinese university dated 1992 as verification of the radioactive nature of the powder. During XXXXXXXXXXXX interview, the individual claimed to be able to provide up to 2000 kg of uranium-bearing rock from a location in Kayah State XXXXXXXXXXXX , and further stated if the U.S. was not interested in purchasing the uranium, he and his associates would try to sell it to other countries, beginning with Thailand. See Ref B for further information.
2. (S//REL TO USA, ACGU) Details of the incident follow, keyed to questions in Ref A:
A) (S//REL to USA, ACGU) Current location of the material: Sample bottle is in transit via classified Diplomatic Pouch to Aberdeen Proving Grounds via DIA.
B) (S//REL to USA, ACGU) Transportation status of material: sample bottle in transit through diplomatic courier service. The sample was wrapped in several layers and placed inside multiple containers, including glass, lead, and wooden boxes/crates. Following instructions from DIA headquarters, USDAO has sent the package via Diplomatic Pouch to Aberdeen Proving Grounds, through DIA, 3100 Clarendon, Arlington, VA. The box is marked "Secret." Dimensions are 16 X 16 X 8 inches. Embassy Rangoon assesses that the host nation is currently unaware of USDAO receipt and shipment of the material. However, the possibility cannot be dismissed that rather than a sale for profit, the seller is attempting to assist in executing a government entrapment scheme.
C) (S//REL to USA, ACGU) As noted, Post assesses that the Burmese government is currently unaware of USDAO receipt and shipment of the sample. Burmese authorities would likely seize any additional samples or stocks of the material if aware of their existence.
D) (S//REL to USA, ACGU) Sample is in transit by commercial air via Diplomatic Pouch.
E) (S//REL to USA, ACGU) Intended destination of material: The subject indicated his first choice for a possible buyer of the alleged uranium is the United States, via the Embassy in Rangoon. Other stated options include the Thai and Chinese Embassies. His intent appears to be to sell the material in Rangoon. Subject made no mention of intent to move material across borders.
G - J) (S//NF) Subject identified himself as XXXXXXXXXXXX . (S//REL TO USA, ACGU) The subject brought with him a small bottle weighing 1.8 ounces and measuring 70 mm long by 26 mm in diameter, which was half-filled with a grey metallic powder. He claimed the material in question was Uranium-238 in powder form. The subject claims to represent a small group that wants to sell uranium to the U.S. Embassy. According to the subject, he has 50 kilograms of uranium-containing rock or ore at an undisclosed location in Rangoon, which is stored in a barrel that prevents the radioactivity from being toxic XXXXXXXXXXXX . He estimates there are at least 2000 more kilograms that could be dug up from the site in Kayah State. The uranium was only recently brought to Rangoon (subject would not give a specific time frame). The subject claimed the uranium was discovered in Kayah state in 1992.
XXXXXXXXXXXX (S//REL TO USA, ACGU) The subject claimed XXXXXXXXXXXX know about the uranium. XXXXXXXXXXXX
L) N/A. M) (S//REL TO USA, ACGU) Interview occurred in a consular interview room (used for walk-ins) at the U.S. Embassy Rangoon.
N) Additional details: Ref B contains all other available information related to this incident.
3. (SBU) XXXXXXXXXXXX DINGER
It is also noteworthy that the above September 23, 2008 cable reveals that a sample of Uranium-238 acquired from Burma was sent via diplomatic pouch to the Defense Intelligence Agency building at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard in a densely-populated urban section of Arlington County, Virginia while en route to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. The revelation leaves open the possibility that shipments of other dangerous and hazardous materials via diplomatic pouches are also being sent to the Arlington address from US Defense Attaches abroad.
Uranium-238 is a hazardous by-product in particulate form of the military use of depleted uranium in munitions.
The DIA building in Clarendon is located at the Clarendon Metro stop and there is direct controlled access from the Metro station to the basement of the building.
State cables: Uranium-238 from Burma sent to DIA building in densely-populated Arlington, Virginia. Building has underground connection to Washington Metro system.