German dual-use equipment supplies to Myanmar questioned

March 30, 2011 at 12:30 PM
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CHIANG MAI, Thailand, March 30 (UPI) -- Doubts are being raised about the eventual end use of German technology shipped to Myanmar.

Bob Kelley, formerly with the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Berlin is being "naive" in its claim that German equipment exported to Myanmar hasn't been used contrary to its stated end use.

Kelley based his comments on a photo published by DVB captioned, "Burmese Major Sai Thein Win stands in front of a German-made machine that he said produced an impeller, which he is holding, for a liquid-fueled rocket engine," Mizzima News reported Wednesday.

The piece of machinery in the photo was manufactured by German firm Deckel Maho Gildemeister and subsequently shipped to Myanmar.

In 1996 the European Union adopted a Common Position on Myanmar, including a ban on the sale or transfer from the EU of arms or weapons expertise, or of any equipment that might be used for internal repression. That ban remains in place.

In September 2007, following repression by the Myanmar junta of pro-democracy protests, further measures focused on 1,207 companies, with sanctions including visa bans and asset freezes.

In April 2009 the EU extended the visa ban and asset freezes on members of the Myanmar military junta and its supporters for another year.

Myanmar activists are increasingly worried that the German government's statement of denial comes amid heightened concerns that next month Germany, with Austrian assistance, will press fellow EU members to lessen or even lift the EU's economic sanctions against Myanmar's military junta government.

Kelley's testimony is an important tool for the Myanmar activists, as in 2010 he appeared in a Democratic Voice of Myanmar -- DVB -- documentary aired on al-Jazeera as an independent exporter verifying testimony and evidence from a high-ranking Myanmar military defector. The defector alleged that German equipment was being used for clandestine weapons program, in violation of EU sanctions against exports on "dual-use" technology.

The DVB documentary highlighted the testimony of Sai, a former senior scientist in Myanmar's junta, who claimed that Deckel Maho Gildemeister not only exported technology prohibited under EU sanctions but also provided engineers and specialist personnel to oversee the installation of the equipment in factories owned by the military junta.

Sai related how Deckel Maho Gildemeister machinery was used to make precision metal parts, was being used by the junta's factories covertly to manufacture rocket and missile parts.

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