Allegations by a Myanmar defector that the military-run country is pursuing a nuclear program are corroborated by newly available commercial satellite images, Jane's Intelligence Review said in an article released yesterday.
Photos of buildings and security fences near the country's military capital, Naypyidaw, confirm reports by Major Sai Thein Win of machine tool factories and other facilities alleged to be part of a nascent program to build nuclear weapons, the magazine reported from London.
"They will not make a bomb with the technology they currently possess or the intellectual capability," Jane's analyst Allison Puccioni said. "The two factors do make it possible to have a route to one."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed concern at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Thailand last year about reports that North Korea and Myanmar are expanding military ties and sharing nuclear technology.
Clinton said the United States would remain "vigilant" against any military cooperation between the two countries. Yesterday, Clinton announced further sanctions against North Korea in an effort to halt the country's nuclear-weapons program.
Sai said he worked at two factories involved in the nuclear program. His report to a Burmese opposition news website, Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Norway, included documents and color photographs of the interior of the installations.
Jane's said in a statement that Myanmar's nuclear program is "overly ambitious with limited expertise." While Myanmar is a signatory to international agreements to control nuclear weapons use, it hasn't agreed to more recent changes in the treaties and therefore isn't subject to international inspections, the magazine said.
"Someone had to be assisting them, that's the frightening thing," said David Kay, a former UN weapons inspector and a fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va.