Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Burma’s military junta has strongly denied recent allegations made by Burmese media in exile that Senior General Than Shwe’s regime had sought North Korean assistance to develop nuclear weapons, calling the accusations “baseless”, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday.
In the statement obtained by Mizzima, Burma’s reclusive regime countered that the allegations of co-operation with North Korea were made by “defectors and exile media who want to disrupt Burma’s national interest”.
The regime’s denial comes less than 24 hours after a senior US government official, Scot Marciel, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, told a Senate committee in Washington that if Burma’s regime obtained nuclear weapons it would “tremendously destabilise” the region.
The regime’s claim of innocence was reiterated at 8 p.m. on Friday in a state-run Myanmar TV (MRTV) news bulletin, which declared that Burma had “no intention of becoming a state with nuclear weapons”.
The Burmese regime’s denial, comes one week after Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma released a hard-hitting investigative documentary featuring Burmese army defector Major Sai Thein Win, who provided extensive evidence to support his claim that North Korea and Burma were co-operating to develop nuclear weapons. Major Sai Thein Win who provided photos of himself working in what he described as special military factories also said that he was sent by his superiors to study missile technology at the prestigious Russia’s Bauman Moscow State Technical University.
The documentary shown internationally on Al Jazzera’s English-language news service and on domestic American television has proven embarrassing for Burma’s regime and those in the West who seek to normalise relations with what is commonly referred to as one of the world’s most repressive regime’s.
“These reports were baseless accusations that are politically motivated … to undermine the political process as Myanmar [Burma] is striving for democracy by holding general elections this year,” the statement said.
Citing the North Korea allegations made by DVB, US Senator Jim Webb, a prominent advocate for economic and political engagement with Burma’s military rulers opted at the last minute to postpone his planned visit to Burma. Webb’s trip was set to coincide with the worldwide release of DVB’s exposé and a high-level visit to Naypyidaw by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.