Fri 17 Dec 2010
Filed under: Military,News,Other
A 2004 U.S. diplomatic dispatch stated that the ruling military junta in Myanmar indicated it could pursue a nuclear program in order to draw the United States’ attention, Agence France-Presse reported today (see GSN, Dec. 13).
The cable from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, provided by the transparency organization WikiLeaks to the London Guardian, detailed information provided by Indian External Affairs Ministry joint secretary Mitra Vasisht after meeting with Burmese junta leader Than Shwe.
“Burma is so isolated that members of Than Shwe’s delegation wondered whether they would have to ‘go nuclear’ to get U.S. attention,” Vasiisht said while pointing out the experience of Pakistan, which conducted its own nuclear weapons testing in 1998 and today receives a large amount of U.S. financial support.
Other leaked cables from the U.S. Embassy in Yangon addressed the junta’s suspected nuclear work and its collaboration with North Korea. Myanmar has adamantly denied past allegations it is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Dec. 16).
Meanwhile, the Guardian posted a December 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable that requested New Delhi move to halt a reported Syrian effort to purchase Indian-manufactured technology that could be put to use in a biological or chemical weapons program.
“The U.S. has obtained information indicating that a Syrian institution with connections to the country’s chemical and biological weapons programs is attempting to acquire Australia Group-controlled glass-lined reactors, heat exchangers and pumps from the Indian firms [redacted] and [redacted]. Both firms are believed to have received visits from the Syria institution in the past three months and may be close to concluding their respective deals,” the cable said.
The United States called on New Delhi, as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to take action on the matter.
“We therefore seek the [government of India's] assistance in investigating this activity and talking all steps necessary to prevent Indian entities from providing CBW equipment to Syria,” the cable stated.
“We also want to remind the GOI that the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act requires us to report to Congress transfers of goods, services and technology on multilateral control lists, such as the Australia Group, to Syria. Sanctions may be imposed against individuals and entities identified in such reports,” the diplomatic memo added.
The Australia Group is an international export control organization that oversees biological and chemical trade regulations. Last month, the Obama administration announced it would advocate for Indian membership to the group (see GSN, Nov. 8).
The cable ended by calling on New Delhi to “take all steps necessary” to probe the situation and block Damascus from purchasing any dual-use equipment that could be used to manufacture chemical warfare materials (London Guardian, Dec. 16).
[The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a non-profit organization with a mission to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and to work to build the trust, transparency and security which are preconditions to the ultimate fulfillment of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s goals and ambitions.]