December 16, 2010
Wikileaks is in the process of releasing over 250,000 United States
diplomatic cables. The less than 1% published so far have already changing
the way we think about the world. Hitherto secret information has been
revealed about one country after another. The cables have also made
evident that the U.S. regularly lies in its public statements about
international issues. The government isn t even close to being open with
American citizens and the people of the world.
For Burma, the Obama Administration is obliged under the Tom Lantos JADE
Act to disclose publicly what it knows about the SPDC s nuclear program.
The State Department has refused to publish the Act s Report on Military
and Intelligence Aid, even in the face of our Freedom of Information
filing, which was made eight months ago.
Wikileaks has provided an extraordinary opportunity to circumvent this
blackout. The organization has 1,864 cables from the United States Embassy
in Rangoon, and additional cables from other locations mention Burma as
As of the time this statement was posted, at least nineteen of the
released cables involve Burma, and eight of these deal with nuclear and
- The possible construction of a nuclear reactor - 04Rangoon88
- A large underground site in Magway, with North Korean workers -
- How the SPDC s growing nuclear program is a barrier to U.S. engagement,
with reference to the detection of increasing military purchases from
North Korea and an alarming increase in the number of nuclear science
students studying in Russia (which number Dictator Watch first disclosed)
- The possible shipment of uranium ore to China - 07Rangoon105
- China revealing that Burma s North Korea relationship includes a nuclear
component and that the North is providing hardware and Russia software and
training - 09Rangoon502
- China promoting the idea that Burma-North Korea
cooperation is acceptable - 09Rangoon732
- An offer to sell uranium to the Embassy in Rangoon - 08Rangoon749
- Burma named as a WMD proliferation risk - 09State80163
The uranium sale cable is from September 23, 2008. It reports that a
Burmese national gave the embassy a vial that purportedly contained U-238.
The seller claimed to have 50kg of uranium-bearing rock in Rangoon, and
access to at least 2,000 kg more in Karenni State. However, it is not
clear when the offer took place. The cable header refers to another
communication from 2007 - State162091.
This cable validates intelligence about the availability of Burmese
uranium that Dictator Watch has previously published, albeit with some
At the end of 2006, we learned that a Burmese broker was offering to sell
yellowcake (low refined uranium). Our initial response was to inform the
U.S. We don t want a dirty bomb with Burmese uranium to go off someday in
New York, London or Bangkok. We were told to stay away from it - we had
offered to help arrange a sting - from which we concluded that the U.S.
already knew about it.
In July 2007 we mentioned the situation for the first time in an article,
Burma: A Threat to International Security and Peace. There was no
response, official or press, to our information. We subsequently described
the case in more detail in a 2009 article, Elements of a Nuclear Weapons
Program, Threat Assessment for Burma. In this piece we disclosed that the
broker had referred to a 60kg supply of yellowcake that was stored at an
industrial center near Bangkok, and that the material was under the
control of a Wa general. We also revealed that we had learned of a second
broker. There was no response to this information either.
While there are differences, U-238 versus yellowcake, and 50 versus 60
kilograms, we think it is likely that the broker that approached the
Rangoon Embassy was the same as the first that we heard about. We would
like to know the result of the U.S. testing on the sample that the Embassy
received, and why America didn t work to stop the broker. As far as we are
concerned, the threat of terrorism using Burmese uranium remains critical.
If the U.S. is interested, we can provide additional information on the
broker, from a document that mentions the yellowcake.
We have no doubt that as the bulk of the Burma cables are published, more
about the SPDC s role in weapons of mass destruction proliferation will
become known. We would also comment that these are State Department cables
- the CIA, of course, knows more than State - and that the latest cable is
from early 2010. Unquestionably, the U.S. has substantial and more recent
intelligence about the SPDC s proliferation, which in the interests of
openness it should reveal, without the need for a Wikileaks.