North Korean military workers sighted near Indian border: report

July 5th, 2009 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 5 (IANS) North Korean military workers have been sighted near the Indian border as the military regimes of Myanmar and North Korea forge an increasingly close alliance aimed at busting international sanctions, a British newspaper reported Sunday.
The alliance includes barter trade and nuclear cooperation, the Sunday Times reported.

It said the first group of North Koreans was sighted in the jungles of Arakan in northern Myanmar some time ago, mystifying local villagers who mistook them for Japanese.

“In fact, they were North Korean engineers building a complex of tunnels and bunkers for the Burmese military junta in an axis of outcasts,” the paper said.

It said more North Koreans have since been seen - and photographed - around Naypyidaw, the Myanmar military junta’s isolated new capital, where they have supervised the construction of a subterranean complex.

A third group of North Koreans has now been spotted in restive Chin state, bordering India and Bangladesh. They are said to be equipping tunnels with generators and anti-gas ventilation systems, the paper said.

“Eventually the junta is to have a web of underground command posts, linked by fibreoptic cables, to help it put down any revolt and keep control in a national emergency,” the paper said, quoting exiles from Myanmar and diplomats in the capital Yangon (Rangoon).

One report suggested that some sections of tunnels in Myanmar were wide enough for trucks and could accommodate 600 personnel for several months, with storage space for food and weaponry.

The Sunday Times said two military regimes appeared to be building up a barter trade. North Korean ships have been spotted unloading heavy equipment and wooden crates that appeared to be military consignments, probably small arms and ammunition.

In return, Myanmarese workers loaded consignments of rice, rubber, hardwood and rare minerals, the paper said.

It said the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was principally concerned about a Myanmarese project to operate a nuclear research reactor supplied by Rosatom, a Russian company.

The reactor will be similar to a North Korean plant that has been used to make plutonium for nuclear bombs.

At least 350 Burmese, most of them military personnel, have received training in Russia, and exiles reported that 80 others went to North Korea for instruction, the paper said.

It said a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam 1, reversed course and steamed homewards last week after being trailed by an American destroyer, the SS John McCain, while on a suspected voyage to Myanmar.

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