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Burma Nuke Plant: Plains to Hills


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   As Rangoon gears up for the transfer of the center of state power to Pyinmana in central Burma, reports have reached the border of activities on the western slopes of the Shan hills that sources suspect as the construction of a secure site for Burma's nuclear program.

   The new location near Maymyo, officially known as Pyin Oo Lwin, 42 miles east of Mandalay, lies in a flat land surrounded by on all sides by steep hills "not unlike the crater in You only live twice (a James Bond movie) where the bad guy prepares his scheme to conquer the world." In addition, the area is shrouded in an all-year round mist that the project's planners believe it would be virtually invisible from the air.

   The villages and their fields had already been confiscated without compensation since 2003. Roads, some say tunnels as well, are being constructed. It has also been declared off-limits to the local populace with long-term imprisonment as punishment for trespassers.

   An airfield has also been under construction since last year at Aneesakhan on the way to Mandalay. Half of the homes in the town and all homes in the surrounding villages of Singaunggyi, Kangyigon and Nyannyintha were demolished for the purpose. As for Paungdaw, another village nearby, it lost all of its farmlands.

   Sources close to the military say the Army is transferring the nuclear plant from Magwe to Maymyo. However, they have so far been unable to give further details. Editor's Note:Drawn according to information obtained by Mizzima News that adds the program was ordered suspended on 11 August. The site appears to be also in the vicinity of the Yeywa dam site, under construction by Chinese engineers.

   Maymyo, once part of Shan State's Hsipaw principality, was occupied by the British as the seat of government from where they administered the affairs of Upper Burma. Eventually, it became part of the district of Mandalay.

   The city has become so militarized during the last decade sources are estimating its population as half civilian and half military. The country's West Point, Defense Services Academy, is located here. For years, Burma has been under suspicion of developing nuclear power with assistance from North Korea and Russia, where thousands are receiving nuclear training. However, Rangoon has maintained that it was only acquring nuclear technology for medical research purposes and denied its nuclear program being a front for bomb-making.

   Still, the junta's critics have pointed out that the topic of atomic energy, atomic fuel and atomic radiation is being placed under the Defense List. "It should instead be placed under the Energy and Electric Power list," suggested a participant from a ceasefire group on 9 June 2004 at the military-organized National Convention to draft the country's constitution.

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