Jeffrey LewisBurma Allegations Coming

The first press stories are beginning to appear based on some information that the Democratic Voice of Burma that suggests Burma may have a nuclear weapons program, beginning with Senator Jim Webb’s decision to postpone a scheduled trip to Myanmar.

The DVB will air a documentary tomorrow that includes the participation of several of our colleagues and friends — though, not me!


  1. Cameron (History)

    Anyone want to guess if the program would be because of Burma’s nuclear neighbors?

  2. Josh (History)

    The Burma allegations have arrived. There’s Geoff’s amazing post on missiles and CNC machining facilities, right above this one. And there’s this article in Friday’s Washington Post on the nuclear angle:

    Burma has begun secretly acquiring key components for a nuclear weapons program, including specialized equipment used to make uranium metal for nuclear bombs, according to a report that cites documents and photos from a Burmese army officer who recently fled the country.

    But read the whole thing for yourself.

    I’ve had the chance to study the report, which I’m sure will come more fully into public view soon. Unlike Burma’s missile program, which appears to depend on some degree of North Korean assistance, there is strikingly little indication of a North Korean role on the nuclear side (at least in this report). The picture is somewhat fragmentary, but it appears that the Burmese are trying to build up a fissile material production program based on training some personnel in Russia and importing advanced machine tools from Germany and elsewhere. Experts and fuel-cycle equipment from abroad are not in evidence here.

    The main focus of the program is uranium-based, from mining and milling clear through to reduction to HEU metal. The enrichment technology is MLIS, although there may be a parallel centrifuge effort. There is a reactor program as well, but it appears to be embryonic.

    All in all, the program appears to have been designed to have the lowest profile possible — in remote locations, highly compartmentalized, relying on low-signature technologies, and not obviously involving any foreigners. But Burma’s limited science and technology base probably means that it was never destined to succeed, at least on those terms.

    The most visible aspect of the program so far is what appears to be a small, operational uranium milling facility, visible in Google Earth at 22 deg. 53’36 N, 96 deg. 04’49 E.

  3. FSB

    The name is Myanmar, old chap.

    We don’t go hunting tigers in Rangoon either any longer.

  4. Josh (History)

    The DVB report on Burma’s nuclear-weapons ambitions is now online.

    A short version by Robert Kelley is also online.

  5. Jeffrey Lewis (History)


    One can always hope for a change of fortune.

    All kidding aside, I believe there is a general effort among the democracy community to resist accepting the junta’s name for Burma as long as one resists its rule.

  6. Pat Flannery (History)

    Notice anything odd about the BOB being a missile factory BTW?
    Like the fact that the roads around it don’t have the large radius curves that were a sure sign of Soviet missile-related production sites?
    Maybe they have centrifuges in there, but without pretty good proof of that fact, all that is is a big building.
    If they are attempting to enrich uranium to weapons grade, then the fact that they are importing both uranium ore and technology to build centrifuges should stick out like a sore thumb.
    I also notice that the “Democracy Community” didn’t seem to have any problem with replacing “Peking” with “Beijing”.
    I guess that’s due to where you get your cheap imports from. 😉

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