Fri 31 Mar 2006
Filed under: News,Regional
North Korea and Myanmar have ties that could turn into a security threat and thus need close monitoring, a former White House aide said.
Michael Green, former Asia director at the National Security Council, ranked the two governments together in their defiance of the international community.
“”Both regimes are clearly beginning to mirror each other in terms of criminal activities, misuse of their own people to create instability for their neighbors, for negotiating purposes,”" he told a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
The transcript of the hearing was made available Thursday.
“”They are not interested in opening and engaging,”" Green said, and they have things they can get from each other.
The junta in Myanmar, for example, is likely to seek nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.
“”They (Myanmar) have food, they have things that North Korea wants, and it’s a connection that I think we should be watching very, very carefully,”" said Green.
The North Korea-Myanmar relationship has been on and off the radar for years with suspicions of possible nuclear weapons cooperation.
The Far Eastern Economic Review had reported in late 2003 that North Korean technicians and aircraft were spotted in central Myanmar.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific, recalled the report, saying it is an issue “”that we need to be paying attention to.”"
Green, who left the White House just last December, said that evidence suggests there are North Koreans active in Myanmar.
“”I don’t think we know a lot about what they are doing, but I think we should be trying to learn more,”" he said.
North Korea and Myanmar apparently have the same strategy — deliberately creating transnational instability and then blackmailing their neighbors who try to pressure them, Green said.
“”They are behaving like criminal gangs extorting money from shopkeepers in the neighborhood in exchange for keeping other criminal elements ‘under control,’”" he said of the two regimes.
“”The neighboring states make these bargains with the regime out of fear of what might come next and with the hope that they are contributing to stability, when in fact the problems are just being allowed to fester and grow,”" he said.
China’s relationship with Myanmar and its effect on other nations of the region are also resonant of its relationship with North Korea, according to Green.
China is Myanmar’s strongest supporter, and economic interaction between them has motivated Japan, India and others to engage Myanmar also, he said.
“”I am once again reminded of North Korea, where fear of China’s unchecked influence has propelled the Republic of Korea (South Korea) to take a more accommodating stance towards Pyongyang,”" said Green.