Nonproliferation experts on Friday said they had found reason to be suspicious about the purpose of a mysterious defense site in Myanmar.
Earlier this year, the small Burmese journal Unity ran an investigative report alleging that a defense facility in the central Magwe region was manufacturing chemical warfare materials. Government officials swiftly denied the report, arrested the journalists responsible for the article and acted to confiscate print copies of the journal. However, as Myanmar has yet to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, there is no formal mechanism for verifying that the government is telling the truth.
Analysts with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in their Friday report said they believe the facility merits closer examination due to a number of design features that are “consistent” with a chemical production plant.
“It is not possible to determine whether the facility is a chemical weapons site, but there are a number of aspects to its size, layout and location that raise questions,” wrote CNS research associate Catherine Dill and Jeffrey Lewis, who directs the think tank’s East Asia Nonproliferation Program.
Dill and Lewis said they were able to identify the location of the facility by comparing photos printed in the Unity journal article with commercial satellite photographs taken in 2004, 2009, 2012 and January 2014. The facility is located near the Pauk township and consists of five sizable warehouses, according to the CNS report.
Pointing to such detected features as helicopter pads, a fortified entrance, a security perimeter and possible nearby foreign worker housing, the experts concluded the site is “clearly a high-value defense facility.”
The complex’s location in isolated hill country would be inconsistent with the premise of a commercial business venture, Dill and Lewis said. “The hills might, however, provide some protection for nearby communities in the event of a chemical release.”
They also noted the presence of ventilation features such as three exhaust stacks and roof vents on some of the connected buildings in the northern part of the site.
The experts recommend that the international community press Myanmar to quickly ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention and clarify “the purpose of defense activities” at the complex. In recent days, an official with President Thein Sein’s administration said the government was planning to ratify the chemical weapons ban within its current term.
In past decades, dissident Burmese groups have accused the military junta that officially ruled Myanmar until a few years ago of conducting chemical weapons work. However, no evidence has been found to back up those claims.
- 1 Views of Homosexuality Differ Greatly by Region
- 2 Congress Passed a Cell-Phone Unlocking Bill. But It Won’t Do Much.
- 3 The Fight for a Smaller, Stronger Republican Study Committee
- 4 Wednesday Q+A with Ann Selzer
- 5 Smart Ideas: The Debate as a Microcosm of 2016, the Demise of North Korea, and the Libertarian Party’s Ceiling
What We're Following See More »
"Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will score another high-powered Republican endorsement on Wednesday, according to a campaign aide: retired senator John Warner of Virginia, a popular GOP maverick with renowned military credentials."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday "heard several hours of oral arguments" over the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules. The 10-judge panel "focused much of their questioning on whether the EPA had overstepped its legal authority by seeking to broadly compel this shift away from coal, a move the EPA calls the Best System of Emission Reduction, or BSER. The states and companies suing the EPA argue the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate anything outside of a power plant itself."
"Spending by super PACs tied to Donald Trump friends such as Ben Carson and banker Andy Beal will help make this week the general election's most expensive yet. Republicans and Democrats will spend almost $28 million on radio and television this week, according to advertising records, as Trump substantially increases his advertising buy for the final stretch. He's spending $6.4 million in nine states, part of what aides have said will be a $100 million television campaign through Election Day."
Monday night's debate may have inspired some in Congress, as Senate Minority Leader has decided to take a stand of his own. Reid is declining to allow a vote on a "bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. spectrum availability and the deployment of wireless broadband." Why? Because of a "broken promise" made a year ago by Republicans, who have refused to vote on confirmation for a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission to a second term. Harry Reid then took it a step further, invoking another confirmation vote still outstanding, that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.