Foreign Policy Blogs

ASEAN and Nukes

nukesA lot of international attention has focused on North Korea and Iranian nuclear programs.  However, Mark Fitzpatrick has an interesting article in the Japan Times concerning nuclear proliferation in Southeast Asia, specifically as it applies to rumors surrounding Myanmar’s nuclear ambitions.  This blog has previously discussed Burmese defectors’ claims that the junta was developing nuclear weapons technology in collaboration with North Korean.  While Fitzpatrick believes nations in the region should be able to have access to safe nuclear energy, they should also be transparent and follow the protocols of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Bangkok Treaty).  In the case of Myanmar, he recommends ASEAN member states take stronger action than with other member states:  1) watch them carefully, 2) try to influence them to adhere to the  IAEA Additional Protocol and amend the Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) to Myanmar’s safeguards agreement, 3) Create a contingency plan in case that Myanmar is trying to acquire a nuclear arsenal or selling nuclear material to a rogue regime or non-state actor.

If these rumors are substantiated, this would likely accelerate and embolden America’s attempt to  regain its footing in Southeast Asia, but where Myanmar is concerned, it would definately sour relations.  Then again,  China’ position is unclear, it is hard to believe that Chinese would be supportive of a nuclearized Myanmar.    I seriously doubt that Myanmar wants to be isolated with its ownly friend being North Korea, so I’m not sure how valid these accusations are.