Jeffrey LewisNote from a Small Organization

Hey, look, the Government of Burma has officially responded to a pair of articles by Catherine Dill and I describing  a suspect defense facility near Pauk:

Speaking on May 15, U Ye Htut said he strongly objected to report.

“But I do not think we need to pay attention to such a small organisation,” said U Ye Htut, who is also the Deputy Minister of Information. 

“Every country is improving their national defences and the United States and United Nations have had nothing to say about our weapons factory at Pauk,” he said.

I think we’ve got their attention.  Wait until they read our coming rundown on the North Korean missile facility near Minbu, followed by the revelation of several new facilities.

The short version is this:  One of Burma’s ruling Generals, Thein Htay, controls something called the Directorate of Defense Industries.  The US Treasury Department has sanctioned Thein Htay and DDI for its ties to North Korea.

DDI seized a bunch of farmland and razed a village near Pauk to build a giant defense factory.  When reporters published a story based on interviews with locals, the government arrested the journalists and seized all copies of the magazine.  Burma refused to say what the facility is — other than to say it is none of anyone’s business — and the reporters are still in jail.

Burma signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993.  Despite repeated promises to do so, Burma has still not ratified the CWC.

And despite repeated promises to the Obama Administration to cut off cooperation with North Korea, DDI’s facilities have dramatically expanded since 2009.

I don’t know whether the facility near Pauk is a chemical weapons plant as locals allege, but I can’t imagine a country acting more suspicious than Burma in the past few months.

You can read our articles — an CNS analysis of satellite images of the site and a Foreign Policy essay on why we ought to care — or listen to Aaron Stein and I discuss the matter in a podcast.


  1. nukeman (History)

    Congratulations! When you get a government angry for your open source research you know that you’ve done a good job. I expect you’ll see more attacks on your work from sources angry for what you have revealed. Keep up the good work.

  2. nukeman (History)

    Besides crowdsourcing if possible you could post a list or links of some kind to people who are willing to share proliferation related scientific and engineering information. Many people do not have the resources to print out journal articles or conference papers and this would be a way to help them out.

  3. krepon (History)

    Didn’t think we were that organized.