‘India should check Chinese influence in Myanmar’

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: Myanmar is covertly developing nuclear weapons with the aid of North Korea and India should take proactive steps to check China’s influence in the energy-rich southeast Asian country, a British scholar said Monday.

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    “North Korea is present in Myanmar and is engaged in work not open to the public,” Marie-Carine Lall, an expert on South Asia and Myanmar at the University of London, said while responding, at a discussion here, to a question on reports about North Korea helping the Myanmar regime in its nuclear activities.

    Lall said the North Korean involvement is not confirmed, but indicated that the Myanmar regime was into constructing nuclear reactors or weapons.

    “Myanmar is rich enough to buy nuclear weapons. If it wants, it can buy from the open market,” she said at a discussion on the situation in Myanmar at the Observer Research Foundation.

    “It (Myanmar) has a long way to go” (if it wants to build nuclear weapons”), she added.

    Criticising US President Barack Obama’s policy on Myanmar, she said the policy of sanctions had failed to make any impact on the military regime while it has made the poor people poorer and increased their sufferings.

    “There had been no impact at all on the regime,” while it had helped China increase its influence, she said.

    Lall suggested that India should continue its engagement with Myanmar, and in fact broad-base it by engaging with all stake-holders, including new and old political parties, ethnic and religious groups and NGOs.

    Saying that Myanmar is keen to balance its policy towards India and China, she asked the Indian government to take pro-active steps in time to check Chinese influence.

    Lall’s criticism of the US sanctions-led approach to Myanmar comes days after Obama criticized India for not speaking out for democracy and freedom in the southeast Asian country.

    India has, however, advocated reconciliation and reforms in Myanmar and has been opposed to sanctions as this results in much hardship for the common people.

    “The fact is that the situation in Myanmar today is very very complex. And India has sought to engage the leadership of that country and in the process also convey our views and opinions that we are in favour of inclusive political change,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said in an interview.

    “We would favour reconciliation between all the different groups in the country, we would like peace, we would like development, we would like progress in Myanmar,” she added.