Myanmar Denies Report of a Secret Chemical-Arms Facility

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 6, 2014, 9:37 a.m.

My­an­mar dis­missed a claim that it is secretly pro­du­cing chem­ic­al arms at a De­fense Min­istry plant in its cent­ral Mag­we re­gion, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

Its deputy In­form­a­tion min­is­ter, Ye Htut, ac­know­ledged the man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity’s ex­ist­ence, but de­nounced the Unity journ­al’s re­cent ac­count of chem­ic­al-war­fare activ­it­ies at the site as “totally base­less,” the wire ser­vice re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day. Po­lice ar­res­ted four re­port­ers and the head of the pub­lic­a­tion this past week­end on charges of re­veal­ing state secrets.

“The journ­al only quotes loc­al people,” the of­fi­cial told the Ir­rawaddy for a Tues­day re­port. “It is a na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sue, and even a coun­try like the U.S. would re­spond the same way on these mat­ters.”

The My­an­mar gov­ern­ment ap­peared to con­tin­ue its crack­down on Unity on Wed­nes­day, when per­son­nel took in­to cus­tody a sixth em­ploy­ee of the journ­al over the chem­ic­al-weapons al­leg­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the magazine. He was re­leased after 11 hours.

“They asked me about the news we re­por­ted — wheth­er it was true or not,” Aung Win Tun said of his plain-clothed captors, who re­fused to identi­fy which gov­ern­ment branch they rep­res­en­ted.

“I told them I didn’t know much” about the re­port’s as­ser­tions, said the em­ploy­ee, who does not hold an ed­it­or­i­al role at the journ­al.

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