Operating as usual

Like Previous Regime, Myanmar Junta Pursuing Nuclear Weapons [Irrawaddy/ Alja] Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from Ban...

Like Previous Regime, Myanmar Junta Pursuing Nuclear Weapons
[Irrawaddy/ Alja]
Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from Bangladesh)

His most recent visit to Russia has made it increasingly clear that junta chief and militarist Min Aung Hlaing is chasing the unrealized dream of his predecessor as military dictator, Than Shwe: to possess a nuclear weapon.
Some two decades ago, revealing his desire for an atom bomb as a deterrent against external threats and provocations, Than Shwe told his confidant, then Science and Technology Minister U Thaung, “Ko Thaung, if possible, do make an atom bomb, [I don’t mind] even if it is just the size of a bael fruit.” The military dictator said this during a regular informal evening meeting of generals at the War Office, according to a military official who was in attendance. U Thaung was also a former military officer. Min Aung Hlaing, who was handpicked by Than Shwe, has inherited this dream. During his trip to Russia last week, Min Aung Hlaing again met Alexey Likhachev, director general of Russian state energy company Rosatom. The junta chief previously met him during a weeklong “personal” visit to Russia in July, his second since last year’s coup. On that occasion, the two sides signed memorandums of understanding to cooperate on skills development in nuclear energy in Myanmar, Rosatom said in a release. Last week’s visit saw the regime sign an initial agreement with Russia’s atomic energy agency on the possible implementation of a modular reactor project in Myanmar. Junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun told the press that the project was aimed solely at developing nuclear energy for peaceful use in Myanmar. But it is not the first time the Myanmar military and Rosatom have announced plans to work together on a nuclear project. In 2007 the then military regime led by Than Shwe struck a deal with Rosatom to build a nuclear research center in Myanmar, which Rosatom said would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. But construction never moved forward amid pushback from the U.S. and other countries. In his speeches, Than Shwe constantly invoked the need for a proper defense capability that would ensure total protection of the country, and to apply science and technology to modernize the military.
This perceived need led Than Shwe to approach Russia and North Korea about acquiring technology to produce nuclear energy. Russian and North Korean experts arrived in Myanmar under his rule, and hundreds of Myanmar military officers left for Russian academies to study nuclear science and missile technology.
The regime defended its actions by saying the nuclear energy would used for peaceful purposes in the interests of the people—the same justification offered by Min Aung Hlaing’s current regime. The No. 3 man in Than Shwe’s regime, General Shwe Mann, and other military leaders made a secret visit to Pyongyang in 2008 and signed agreements on defense cooperation. In 2012, Shwe Mann, by that time the Speaker of Myanmar’s Lower House under U Thein Sein’s government, said the visit was only intended to study air defense systems, and that only a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the countries’ militaries was signed during the visit.
In 2010, however, Major Sai Thein Win, an engineer in the Myanmar military’s Science and Technology Workshop (known locally as the “nuclear unit”) who received a doctorate in atomic energy in Russia, publicly disclosed information, including photos, showing that the military regime was conducting research, with technological help from North Korea, on possessing nuclear weapons. The nuclear research program was abandoned under U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government when the country embarked on its purported “democratic transition” in 2011. Myanmar signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 2016 under the democratically elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
But since the military coup last year, the two countries have grown closer, with Moscow backing the putsch and Naypyitaw supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as both become increasingly isolated internationally under US and European sanctions. Russia has become the regime’s major arms supplier, selling to the regime weapons to crush the resistance movement. Though Min Aung Hlaing publicly says he intends to use nuclear energy peacefully for the socio-economic development of the Myanmar people, it is clear that his real intentions aren’t that simple. He surely feels irritated that the world has shunned him for his coup and subsequent bloody crackdowns on civilians. He may wonder whether possessing militarized nuclear technology would make a difference in that regard—a strategy adopted by North Korea. At the very least, as a military dictator who has demonstrated his total lack of concern for the wellbeing of the people, Min Aung Hlaing’s promise that such technology would be used for peaceful purposes in health and electricity generation is highly suspicious. He clearly believes possessing a nuclear weapon has the potential to guarantee his position as dictator for life.

Suspicious or Illegal Procurement Activities

A serious lapse’: PM Shehbaz to form high-level panel toProbe audio leaks [Dawn/p]Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from ...

A serious lapse’: PM Shehbaz to form high-level panel to
Probe audio leaks
Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from Bangladesh)

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday termed the surfacing of audio leaks featuring candid conversations between key figures in the coalition government was a “very serious lapse” as he announced that a high-level committee would be constituted to probe the matter. The premier made these remarks alongside other federal cabinet members at a news conference in Islamabad on Tuesday. Responding to a question regarding the audio leaks, he said that such security breaches were a “big question mark”.“Who will come to meet the prime minister at the PM House now? Be it a sympathiser or a friend, they will think 100 times before talking. This is about the respect of 220 million people of the country. “I am taking notice of this and a committee will be formed and reach the depth of this matter,” PM Shehbaz said. Audio recordings of conversations between key government figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some members of the federal cabinet — discussing governance matters privately surfaced over the weekend, prompting concerns over the security of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). On Saturday, a recording of PM Shehbaz surfaced where he could be heard speaking with an unidentified official about the possibility of facilitating the import of Indian machinery for a power project that was a concern of Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, Raheel. Responding to the matter today, the prime minister said that Maryam never talked to him about any favours or her son-in-law. “Dr Tauqeer spoke to me about it and said half of the machinery was imported during the PTI tenure. I don’t know what amount was spent and how much loss they will have to bear if half the machinery is left. Dr Tauqeer told me that the provision is banned and it will have to be taken to the ECC (Economic Coordination Committee).” Shehbaz went on that he didn’t find it appropriate to take the matter to the cabinet. “I said I will convey this to my daughter [Maryam]. Now tell me what is wrong with this?”
He said that previously several audios relating to PTI chief Imran Khan were leaked but no questions were raised on that. “Have you heard the conversation about diamonds? About the piece of land that was given to them as a gift. You don’t talk about it but you are discussing this matter.” Imran Niazi, Shehbaz went on to allege, brutally used “his force” to target opponents. “He called [ex-FIA DG] Bashir Memon to his office and asked him to file cases against his rivals. This is on record. Did I amend the policy, there is no question about it. You must do justice. I will apologise to the nation if I did something wrong.” Imran also sold the Toshakhana gifts, why aren’t those audios being leaked, the PM asked. “The audios on the increase in sugar prices should surface […] this is a billion-rupee scam.
“Imran said he will form a commission. Was anyone caught, was anyone punished? Billions of dollars from Pakistan were wasted,” the prime minister pointed out, claiming that Imran’s “corruption is a long saga”.
Shehbaz said that Imran did not spare any opportunity in “dividing the army and institutions”, highlighting that the PTI chief was creating polarisation which could take the country towards destruction.
“This is an alarm bell. This man is a risk to the country.”

Boat Capsize in Karatoa River in Panchagarh, Bangladesh: 9 more Bodies Recovered, Death Toll Now 33  [ DS/BD]Ashraf Naya...

Boat Capsize in Karatoa River in Panchagarh, Bangladesh: 9 more Bodies Recovered, Death Toll Now 33
[ DS/BD]
Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from Bangladesh)

Death toll from the boat capsize in Karatoa river in Panchagarh, Bangaldesh rose to 33 with the recovery of nine more bodies from the river this morning (September 26, 2022). The bodies of Brozendra Nath (55), Jharna bala (50), Dwip Babu (10), Suchitra Rani (22), Kabita Rani (50), Bezobala (50) and Dwipshikha Rani (10), and two others, were recovered today, reports our Thakurgaon correspondent. Twenty-four bodies were recovered yesterday (September 25, 2022) after the engine-run trawler packed with over hundred passengers capsized around 1:30pm at Aulia Ghat in Madea union of Boda upazila, reports our Thakurgaon correspondent. Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Boda Police Station Sujoy Kumar Roy said the boat was on its way to Badeshwari temple in Barashashi union when the accident occurred. Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner Md Jahurul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday that at least 70-80 people were rescued alive in the incident. Witnesses and survivors said there were more than 100 passengers on the boat that had a capacity of 50.

Israel troops kill Palestinian Driver in Alleged Car-Ramming  [ AFP/ Kaler, online/BD]Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist f...

Israel troops kill Palestinian Driver in Alleged Car-Ramming
[ AFP/ Kaler, online/BD]
Ashraf Nayan ( a free journalist from Bangladesh)

A Palestinian driver was killed by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank Saturday after what the army called an "attempted ramming attack," but Palestinians called a traffic accident. The army said soldiers and police opened fire on a vehicle after the driver "attempted to run them over" during a patrol outside Nablus, in the northern West Bank. The Palestinian foreign ministry identified the driver as Muhammad Ali Hussein Awad, 36, from the West Bank town of Beit Ijza, near Jerusalem."The Israeli police deliberately shot Awad, intending to kill him, after his vehicle collided with a police vehicle in a traffic accident," the ministry said.
It accused Israeli forces of killing a "defenseless Palestinian" who was not "posing any danger". Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six Day War of 1967. In recent years, there have been persistent car-rammings and other attacks by Palestinians on Israeli military vehicles and checkpoints in the territory.
Israeli forces have criticized their frequent use of lethal force in response to perceived threats. Israel is on high alert ahead of the Jewish high holiday season, which begins on Sunday evening with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. The northern West Bank, notably Jenin and Nablus, has seen near-daily unrest since March.
Israel has launched hundreds of raids in the area in pursuit of individuals it accuses of being involved in deadly attacks targeting Israelis.
The raids have sparked clashes that have killed dozens of Palestinians, including fighters.


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