Webb cancels Burma trip over nuclear fears

US senator Jim Webb has postponed his visit to Burma, scheduled for today, because of reports that Burma is developing a nuclear programme in conjunction with North Korea.

Webb had been due to fly to Naypyidaw this evening to meet with the Burmese prime minister, before heading to Rangoon to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A statement penned by Webb and released by his office today cites news reports that Burma is in the process of building nuclear weaponry. “From the initial accounts, a defecting officer from the Burmese military claims direct knowledge of such plans, and reportedly has furnished documents to corroborate his claims,” said the statement.

“It is unclear whether these allegations have substantive merit. However, given the fact that assistant secretary of state Kurt Campbell recently accused Burma of violating UN Security Council Resolution 1874 with respect to a suspected shipment of arms from North Korea, there are now two unresolved matters related to activities of serious concern between these two countries.

“Until there is further clarification on these matters, I believe it would be unwise and potentially counterproductive for me to visit Burma.”

He added that dialogue should continue between Burma and the US, but that “a productive dialogue will be achievable only when these two matters are further clarified”.

“In the interim period, I intend to strongly suggest to the President that he fulfill the requirements of Public Law 110-286 and immediately appoint a special envoy to address the entire range of issues regarding relations between the United States and Burma.”

Concerns of Burma’s nuclear ambitions, and North Korea’s role in this, have circulated for some months, but a major investigative documentary by DVB that will premiere tomorrow appears to provide solid proof of the plans.

It would have been Webb’s second visit to Burma, and follows a stop-off in South Korea and Thailand.