pacific forum History of Pacific Forum

PacNet #25 – Nuclear Archipelagoes? Secure Nuclear Materials in Southeast Asia

Late in December 2001, the world was surprised by the announcement that the Russian Federation would sell a nuclear research reactor to Burma. With the weakness of its economy and technology sector, Burma hardly seemed to be in need of nuclear energy production. While some critics immediately warned of Burma becoming a Southeast Asian nuclear rogue, the most credible concerns were voiced by the U.S. State Department when it demanded assurances that Rangoon could safely secure sensitive nuclear facilities. In light of the risks of terrorists using improvised nuclear devices and "dirty bombs," the movement of radioactive and fissile materials into and out of a tinderbox country must worry security analysts.