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Burma’s nuclear puzzle

Some say the country's repressive military junta is trying to build nuclear weapons. But can the claims be verified?

Last summer there was a report that the repressive dictatorship in Burma was working on a nuclear weapons program. The claim came from a military defector.


It’s hard to hear about claims like these without being reminded of a 2000 incident involving an Iraqi defector codenamed “curveball.” He alleged that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction, and his claims were used by the Bush administration to help justify the invasion of Iraq. But nearly everything he said was later revealed to be a fabrication.

We wanted to know if the Burmese nuclear claims could be a similar situation. We decided to investigate with our colleagues at the independent investigative group ProPublica. Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by secretive anti-democratic military dictatorships since 1962.  If the defector’s allegations are true, they are clearly alarming. But can this defector be trusted?

Related:

From ProPublica: Experts, intelligence agencies question a defector’s claims about Burma’s nuclear ambitions

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