The Burmese Government is attempting to build nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, according to a military defector who smuggled photographs and documents of secret nuclear equipment out of the isolated dictatorship.
Evidence presented by the former Burmese officer and weapons engineer suggests that the country is still a long way from creating usable nuclear weapons. But the fact that it has even a nascent nuclear programme will cause international alarm at a time when the West is struggling to contain the ambitions of Iran and North Korea.
Jim Webb, the US senator, who in recent months has become an unofficial US envoy to Burma, yesterday cancelled a planned trip to Naypyidaw, the capital, because of concern about the reports of the defector’s testimony on the Norway-based news website, Democratic Voice of Burma.
Memo to Senator Jim Webb: the US, in its invasion and occupation of Iraq, gave the world a magnificent object lesson as to what can happen to a nation which does not have a nuclear deterrent.
The Bush administration used the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which it did not, as the springboard for its attack against, and occupation of, Iraq.
Welcome, Senator Webb, to the wonderful world of unintended geopolitical consequences.
And of course, any allegation that will make North Korea look even more like a rogue nation is always attractive to the US, to China's embarrassment.