Tecnici Nord-Coreani aiutano la Giunta a costruire bunker e tunnel in Birmania - Articolo di Bertil Lintner
Pubblichiamo le foto con cui Bertil Lintner prova la presenza di tecnici nordcoreani in Birmania. Le foto fanno parte di un articolo di Bertil Lintner uscito su Yale Global, la rivista online dell'autorevole Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Ricordiamo anche che Bertil Lintner, autore di "Bloodbrothers: The Criminal Underworld of Asia", è da tempo sulla lista nera della giunta ed è considerato uno dei massimi esperti della Birmania al mondo. Ora vive in Thailandia.
Lintner nell'articolo getta luce sui contatti tra regime nord-coreano e giunta militare birmana per comprare armi e per costruire una rete di tunnel e bunker in Birmania. La giunta avrebbe intrapreso questa strada per evitare l'intrusione dei civili nei palazzi del potere, i rischi connessi a nuove manifestazioni di dissenso e, soprattutto, come ultimo rifugio, in caso di attacco aereo simile a quelli contro Saddam Hussein in Iraq e contro i Talebani in Afganistan.
Il caso Birmania non sarebbe il solo. Dal quadro presentato da Lintner, il regime nordcoreano appare legato a diversi movimenti e governi in giro per il mondo e abile a sfruttare le proprie competenze in cambio di denaro.
L'articolo farà discutere e si spera apra uno squarcio sulla rete di sostegno e connivenza internazionale alla giunta militare in Birmania. Pubblichiamo l'articolo in originale in inglese.
Tunnels, Guns and Kimchi: North Korea’s Quest for Dollars – Part I
Tecnici e consulenti per la costruzione di tunnel: esperti nord-coreani escono fuori da un edificio del governo birmano, presumibilmente nella nuova capitale, Naypydaw.
North Korea digs tunnels for Burma’s brutal, secretive regime,
9 June 2009
suggestions by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that North Korea
could be re-listed as a state sponsoring terrorism raises the prospect
of further tightening the economic noose around the regime. North Korea
has got nuclear weapons but needs funds to keep the regime afloat. Yet,
normal trading partners are loathe to transact with the pariah state
subject to international sanctions. Hence Pyongyang’s search for
innovative means to earn hard currency. North Korea’s ability to
counterfeit high-quality US dollar bills is known, but less known is
its skill in digging tunnels. In the first of this exclusive series on
North Korea’s money-making ventures, journalist and author Bertil
Lintner reveals how North Korea has been secretly helping Burma –
another pariah regime – to build an extensive tunnel network as
emergency shelter and for other unknown purposes. Lintner has obtained
the first ever images of this secret tunnel building effort along with
photos of foreign advisers, almost certainly from North Korea.
Lintner’s research also shows that apart from Burma, the buyers for
North Korean tunneling technology possibly include Hezbollah in
Lebanon. As the Israelis and the UN found out in Lebanon, such
technology appeared to be of high quality: tunnels ran as deep as 40
meters, sometimes located only 100 meters away from adversaries, and
offered amenities like electricity, ventilation, and running water.
Payments are made in gold or barter, any store of value North Korea can
use. While one can marvel at North Korea’s capitalist ingenuity, its
future prospects do not appear to be great as the number of regimes and
business partners desperate or adventurous enough to seek North Korea’s
help is in decline. – YaleGlobal
BANGKOK: Missiles and missile and nuclear technology, counterfeiting
money and cigarette smuggling, front companies and restaurants in
foreign countries, labor export to the Middle East – North Korea has
been very innovative when it comes to raising badly needed foreign
exchange for the regime in Pyongyang. But there is a less known trade in
service that the North Koreans have offered to its foreign clients:
expertise in tunneling.
A fascinating new glimpse of this business has
now been offered in secret photos from Burma obtained by this
The photos, taken between 2003 and 2006, show that while the rest of the
world is speculating about the outcome of long-awaited elections in
Burma, the ruling military junta has been busy digging in for the long
haul – literally.
North Korean technicians have helped them construct
underground facilities where they can survive any threats from their own
people as well as the outside world. It is not known if the tunnels are
linked to Burma’s reported efforts to develop nuclear technology – in
which the North Koreans allegedly are active as well. (See
Burma’s Nuclear Temptation).
The photographs published here show that an extensive network of
underground installations was built near Burma’s new, fortified capital
Naypyidaw. In November 2005, the military moved its administration from
the old capital Rangoon to an entirely new site that was carved out of
the wilderness 460 kms (300 miles) north of Rangoon.
Interactive Photo Slide Show
Pyinmana is close to the new capital, Naypyidaw.
Meaning the “Abode of Kings,” Naypyidaw is meant to symbolize the power
of the military and its desire to build a new state based on the
tradition of Burma’s pre-colonial warrior kings. But underground
facilities were apparently deemed necessary to secure the military’s
grip on power.
Additional tunnels and underground meeting halls have
been built near Taunggyi, the capital of Burma’s northeastern Shan State
and the home of several of the country’s decades-long insurgencies. Some
of the pictures, taken in June 2006, show a group of technicians in
civilian dress walking out of a government guesthouse in the Naypyidaw
area. Asian diplomats have identified those technicians, with features
distinct from the Burmese workers around them, as North Koreans.
This is quite a turn around as Burma severed relations with Pyongyang in
1983 after North Korean agents planted a bomb at Rangoon’s Martyrs
Mausoleum killing 18 visiting South Korean officials, including the
then-deputy prime minister and three other government ministers.
Secret talks between Burmese and North Korean diplomats began in Bangkok
in the early 1990s.
The two sides had discovered that despite the hostile
act in the previous decade they had a lot in common. Both had come under
unprecedented international condemnation, especially by the US, because
of their blatant disregard for the most basic human rights and Pyongyang
for its nuclear weapons program.
Burma also needed more military
hardware to suppress an increasingly rebellious urban population as well
as ethnic rebels in the frontier areas. North Korea needed food, rubber
and other essentials – and was willing to accept barter deals, which
suited the cash-strapped Burmese generals. "They have both drawn their
wagons in a circle ready to defend themselves," a Bangkok-based Western
"Burma’s generals admire the North Koreans for standing
up to the United States and wish they could do the same."
After an exchange of secret visits, North Korean armaments began to
arrive in Burma. The curious relationship between Burma and North Korea
was first disclosed in the Hong Kong-based weekly Far Eastern Economic
Review on July 10, 2003.
A group of 15-20 North Korean technicians were
then seen at a government guesthouse near the old capital Rangoon. The
report was met with skepticism, especially because of the 1983 Rangoon
bombings. But, when North Korean-made field artillery pieces were seen
in Burma in the early 2000s, it became clear that North Korea had found
a new ally – several years before diplomatic relations between the two
countries were restored in April 2007.
"While based on a 1950s Russian design, these weapons [the field guns]
were battle-tested and reliable," Australian Burma scholar Andrew Selth
stated in a 2004 working paper for the Australian National University.
"They significantly increased Burma’s long-range artillery capabilities,
which were then very weak." Since then, Burma has also taken delivery of
North Korean truck-mounted, multiple rocket launchers and possibly also
surface-to-air missiles for its Chinese-supplied naval vessels.
Then came the tunneling experts. Most of Pyongyang’s own defense
industries, including its chemical and biological-weapons programs, and
many other military as well as government installations are underground.
This includes known factories at Ganggye and Sakchu, where thousands of
technicians and workers labor in a maze of tunnels dug under mountains.
The export of such know-how to Burma was first documented in June 2006,
when intelligence agencies intercepted a message from Naypyidaw
confirming the arrival of a group of North Korean tunneling experts at
the site. Today, three years later, the dates on the photos published
today confirm the accuracy of this report. By now, the tunnels and
underground installations should be completed, as would those near
Taunggyi. This well-hidden complex ensures there is no danger of irate
civilians storming government buildings, as they did during the massive
pro-democracy uprising in August-September 1988.
Sources say that the
internationally isolated military junta may also consider these deep
bunkers as their last repair in case of air strikes of the kind that the
Taliban in Afghanistan or Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq endured.
It is not clear how much, or what, Burma has paid for the assistance
provided by the North Korean experts, but it could be food – or gold,
which is found in riverbeds in northern Burma. Or some other mineral.
Burma, of course, is not the only foreign tunneling venture by North
In southern Lebanon following the 2006 war, Israel’s Defense Forces and
the United Nations found several of the underground complexes, which by
then had been abandoned by Hezbollah militants. By coincidence or not,
these tunnels and underground rooms – some big enough for meetings to be
held there – are strikingly similar to those the South Koreans have
unearthed under the Demilitarized Zone that separates South from North
Korea. Under small, manhole cover-sized entrances hidden under grass and
bushes were steel-lined shafts with ladders leading down to big rooms
with electricity, ventilation, bathrooms with showers and drainage
systems. Some of the tunnels are 40 meters deep and located only 100
meters from the Israeli border.
North Korea’s possible involvement in
digging these tunnels is however, difficult to ascertain. According to
Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman, a senior officer in the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who had defected to the West, revealed
that, "thanks to the presence of hundreds of Iranian engineers and
technicians, and experts from North Korea who were brought in by Iranian
diplomats…Hezbollah succeeded in building a 25-kilometer subterranean
strip in South Lebanon."
Beirut sources suggest that it is more likely that Hezbollah has used
North Korean designs and blueprints given to them by their Syrian or
Iranian allies – both of whom are close to the North Koreans. (Both Iran
and Syria have acquired missile technology from North Korea, and what
was believed to be a secret nuclear reactor in Syria built with North
Korean help was destroyed by the Israeli air force in September 2007.)
Either way, North Korean expertise in tunneling has become a valuable
commodity for export. And Pyongyang is flexible about the method of
payment as long as it helps the international pariah regime.
(Puoi leggere l'articolo e la sua seconda parte su http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=12442
(Bertil Lintner può essere raggiunto a email@example.com)11 Giugno 2009