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North Korea helping Myanmar build nuke sites: WikiLeaks

December 10, 2010 16:09 IST

A number of secret nuclear and missile sites are being built with the help of North Korean technicians in Myanmar, according to the latest cache of WikiLeaks published by The Guardian on Friday.

A Myanmar officer quoted in a cable from the United States embassy said he had witnessed North Korean technicians helping construct an underground facility in foothills located more than 480 km north-west of Rangoon.

"The North Koreans, aided by Myanmar workers, are constructing a concrete-reinforced underground facility that is '500 feet from the top of the cave to the top of the hill above'," according to the cable.

The man is quoted as saying the North Koreans were 'blowing concrete' into the excavation, according to the report in The Guardian.

According to the witness accounts, reportedly pieced together by US embassy staff, the work is at an early stage and haphazard.

But they regard it as a troubling development, with the risk that Myanmar could join Pakistan, North Korea and possibly Iran in possessing a nuclear bomb.

In a cable dated August 2004 titled "Alleged North Korean involvement in missile assembly and underground facility construction in Myanmar", one officer working in an
engineering unit at the site, where surface-to-air missiles were allegedly being assembled, is quoted.

The site is the Irrawaddy river town of Minbu in Magwe division, west-central Myanmar.

The officer reportedly said that 300 North Koreans were working at the site, though the embassy, in its cable back to Washington, described this as improbably high.

The officer 'claims he has personally seen some of them, although he also reported they are forbidden from leaving the construction site and that he and other outsiders' are prohibited from entering.

In February 2009, Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win called a US diplomat to deny there was collusion between his country and North Korea over missiles, missile technology or nuclear technology.

There is also a report of a businessman offering uranium to the US embassy in Rangoon. The embassy bought it.

"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."

He said that "if the US was not interested in purchasing the uranium, he and his associates would try to sell it to other countries, beginning with Thailand", a cable reportedly said.

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