Roland Watson
August 3, 2007

In our last article we identified two surface-to-surface missile installations that have been built by the Burma Army. These employ missiles supplied by North Korea, and which are aimed at airbases in Thailand. Our information is that the site in the Maung-ma-gan Islands has been completed, while the facility at Ka-la-goke Island is still under construction.

We have now learned of two additional sites. The first is associated with the Burma Air Force’s Namsang Air Base, near Loilem in Shan State. This facility is reported to be fully operational: North Korean missiles are already emplaced. The second is under construction on Naw Ta Ya Mountain, which lies about eighty kilometers north of Myawaddy (thirty kilometers north of Mae La Refugee Camp)
Again, while we apologize for not providing photos of these facilities, or photocopies of missile purchase orders with North Korea, this is good intelligence. We were surprised that there was so little public discussion after the first article was released. Short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) in Burma are a significant political development.

We recognize that it is easier, and also less work, to assume that this is not true. However, some allegations are so serious that you are obliged to follow-up.

In October 2003, Kyodo News International reported that Burma was negotiating to buy missiles from North Korea. The source for the information was given as U.S. intelligence. The U.S., though, was only an intermediary. The actual source undoubtedly was Burmese.

Our situation is no different. Dictator Watch is also only an intermediary.

It was interesting that the day after our release, Burma’s junta, the SPDC, announced that “terrorists” were planning to disrupt the National Convention. We believe this was an effort to distract attention from the release.

We also note that the BBC recently received clandestine information from inside Burma about the refining of uranium ore, which confirms what we reported first (that such refining is underway). We’re right about the missiles, too, and at some point it will inevitably be confirmed as well.

The Asean Regional Forum has just ended. This issue should have been at the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, it was not considered (at least publicly).

We do understand, of course, why Thailand would be hesitant to openly discuss this new threat. The country is preoccupied with historic political events. Having said that, though, this threat, and relations with Burma in general, should be a major issue in the upcoming election.

The SPDC is a brutal dictatorship. It is increasingly well armed. It considers Thailand to be its number one enemy. This situation should be the country’s top foreign policy priority. The Thai government should completely reevaluate its relationship with the regime.

In the last article we speculated that the missiles were Hwasong-6, a Scud variant with low accuracy. Since then, North Korea has conducted a number of tests of a new SRBM, apparently based on improved technology and which is much more accurate. While the Hwasong-6 might be available at discount prices, we would be surprised if the SPDC, flush with cash from its energy sales, did not at least express an interest in the new weapons. Procuring them would alter the threat analysis of a missile-armed Burma. With the more accurate technology, the SPDC would have a far greater capability to successfully attack Thai facilities
On related subjects, we understand that the businessman Tayza has been making regular trips to Singapore, to purchase weapons. Political leaders from such nations as North Korea, Russia and China come to Burma and reach accords with Than Shwe. Tayza then travels to Singapore to meet lower-level officials to hammer out the transaction details. For example, this is how Burma acquired the MIG-29s from Russia and the T-72 tanks from Ukraine.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo recently said that Burma having nuclear weapons was unlikely. This is clearly a diversion to protect the island/state’s role as the focal point for the arms trade. SPDC generals visit Singapore not only for its quality medical care; their representatives use the country to conclude arms deals.

(One wonders what the Thai government will think of Singapore, after learning that SPDC representatives are meeting their counterparts from North Korea, in Singapore, to buy missiles to be aimed at Thailand.)

We have also learned that a new class of eighty Defense Service Academy graduates left recently on a three-year scholarship program to Russia, to study nuclear technology. This certainly covers both power and weapons.

This boosts the total number of Burmese officers who have gone to Russia to study to approximately 3,000, since the program began in 2001-2002. Previously, the courses were only two years in length, the first six months of which were to study Russian. The language, though, is now taught at DSA in Burma. At the conclusion of the new three-year course, the graduates will receive doctorates in nuclear science.

Lastly, we want to comment on Ibrahim Gambari’s travels, to visit the SPDC’s international allies. While we would prefer not to be too critical, as he is just beginning his responsibilities as Special Advisor for the United Nations on Burma, his statement that there were “slow but positive steps” was ludicrous. How could he possibly believe this? Hasn’t he heard about the reports from the Free Burma Rangers, documenting yet more village burnings, murders and rapes? There is nothing positive at all, at least from the SPDC, taking place for the cause of freedom and democracy in Burma. His statement was an insult to all the people of the nation.

This type of start could easily lead one to conclude that Gambari will be a repeat of Razali, another series of years of false hopes, by which time the SPDC will have atomic weapons, and invincibility. We feel obliged to ask: Are Gambari, and his boss Ban Ki-moon, actually for the dictators?

As the purchase of ballistic missiles illustrates, the SPDC will never relinquish power willingly. There can be no transition to democracy until the generals are defeated militarily, or the people of Burma revolt. For the latter, the best strategy is a program of underground resistance activities, and where great care is taken not to be arrested. These activities should build to a country-wide general strike, which should also be accompanied by a call to rank and file Burma Army soldiers to turn on the generals, and through doing so again truly serve the nation.

This approach worked in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. Why not Burma?

Closing notes:

The tank sale occurred before Ukraine’s popular revolution.

For all the people around the world planning to protest the SPDC on August 8th, please include a visit to a Chinese consulate if possible. If not, if you only protest at SPDC offices, please carry signs denouncing China (and send photos of your demonstration to Burma Digest).