Fri 27 Aug 2010
Filed under: Regional
Chiang Mai – India has weighed in on the debate surrounding a clandestine Burmese nuclear program, concluding that its eastern neighbor is without such a project.Speaking yesterday in New Delhi, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said while New Delhi does not believe Burma presently operates a nuclear program, it continues to monitor the situation for any signs that could lead to a different conclusion.
“Myanamar [Burma] asserts that it has no nuclear program on its anvil. The government of India will have to believe [the official statement],” Krishna said in India’s upper house of parliament. “We will also gather through our own intelligence what is happening. The government always monitors [nuclear] developments closely because it concerns our security.”
The announcement from New Delhi will do little to clear the smoke surrounding what some observers believe is a secret nuclear program that could conceivably produce weapons grade material within a matter of a decade.
In early June, US Senator Jim Webb was at the last moment forced to cancel a trip to Burma owing to the release of a Democratic Voice of Burma documentary claiming to offer definitive proof of the regime’s nuclear ambitions. Washington-Naypyitaw relations have soured since the cancelled trip, as the Obama administration’s cautious approach to engagement with Burma’s generals appears at a standstill.
Earlier this month, the White House gave notice that it supports a UN inquiry into crimes against humanity committed by Burmese military authorities.
Regional trading partners as well as UN Security Council members China and Russia have consistently maintained that Burma poses no regional security threat. Beijing and Moscow have used the assessment to dismiss UN Security Council Resolutions targeting Burma, arguing that such action falls outside the remit of the Security Council owing to the lack of a recognizable international security threat originating from Naypyitaw.
It is expected that India will assume a non-permanent two-year seat on the Security Council commencing January 2011.