Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


February 11, 2009

Unbeknownst to the Burma pro-democracy movement, and the journalist and diplomatic communities, there are events unfolding now in Washington, D.C., that will shape the Obama Administration's Burma policy for years to come. These events specifically relate to the position the Administration will take on the military junta of Burma - the SPDC's - nuclear and
missile proliferation programs: whether to acknowledge them or not.  

Under Section 10 of the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, the Secretary of State is required to prepare a report, not later than 180 days after the enactment of the Act, and annually thereafter, on Military and Intelligence Aid to Burma from foreign countries, companies and other entities. Subsection 3 specifies that the report must include information on "the provision of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, capabilities, and technology, including nuclear, chemical, and dual use capabilities."  

The report is to be submitted to the Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees of the House and Senate, respectively. An unclassified version "shall be placed on the Department of State's website."
President Bush signed the JADE Act into law last July 29th. This means the 180 day preparation period has expired. We assume that the report has been completed and submitted to the committees. Indirect evidence of this is that on January 15th, Senator Richard Lugar, as part of Susan Rice's confirmation hearing as Ambassador to the United Nations, asked Ms. Rice her position on Burma, including "its growing relationship with North Korea." She declined to answer this element of the question. 

We believe Senator Lugar and now Ambassador Rice had read the report, and that it confirms that the SPDC has active nuclear and missile proliferation programs, with the involvement of Russia, North Korea and Iran. This would be consistent with information from our own sources, and which intelligence we have published for the last two years.
The report has not yet been posted on the State Department website. If, when it is made public, its contents support our intelligence, this will trigger a political and media firestorm. The State Department, and by default, the U.S. intelligence community, will have confirmed that the SPDC is a nuclear weapons aspirant. (We have previously reported radio intercepts, in the summer of last year, by the pro-democracy resistance in Eastern Burma of Burma Army communications discussing unsuccessful attempts to shoot down unmanned drones. The U.S. is the logical source for such drones, and if so they likely originated from the base on Diego Garcia.)

The State Department report will elevate Burma in the international discourse to shared status with North Korea and Iran as a threat of the most severe magnitude. It will instantly change the Security Council debate on Burma and the ability of Russia and China to sustain their vetoes on Council action.

We were heartened by President Obama's election campaign statements promising real change, and want to give him the benefit of the doubt. We also understand that Secretary Clinton has just assumed her position, and that there are many grave issues confronting both the United States and the world. Still, the Burma question cannot be put off indefinitely. The SPDC ruthlessly attacked peaceful monks and other pro-democracy demonstrators during the 2007 Saffron Revolution. It denied humanitarian relief to the survivors of the Cyclone Nargis catastrophe. Now, a report has been prepared, under the terms of a law that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton signed, as senators, which we are confident will reveal the SPDC to be a developing nuclear threat, and also a partner with North Korea and Iran.
This issue is forcing the Administration's hand on Burma, in its first few weeks in office. If the report appears shortly, and is not censored regarding the findings of Subsection 3, it will signal that the Obama Administration, unlike President Bush, intends to be open and firm on the SPDC. The campaign promises of honesty and integrity will have been satisfied.
If, on the other hand, the report is not released anytime soon, or it is heavily censored, this implies (1) that the U.S. knows that Burma has a proliferation program; and (2) that the Administration does not want to deal with this new and pressing policy issue (perhaps because of how it would complicate diplomacy with North Korea, Iran and Russia), and that Burma and the threat the SPDC poses to international security and peace will remain on the back burner. Moreover, notwithstanding comforting statements about democracy that will inevitably be forthcoming, including during Secretary Clinton's upcoming trip to Asia, the Obama Administration, like Bush, will not initiate or even support the types of steps that are needed to pressure the SPDC and ultimately to dethrone the junta's supreme leader, Burma's dictator Senior General Than Shwe.  

We call upon the journalist community to ask their government contacts: Where's the State Department nuclear report on Burma?