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Cablegate: International Efforts to Help Burma,S War On Drugs

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FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5831
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1364
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0145
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0212
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RUDKIA/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0906
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RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0080
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000255

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, INL/AAE, INL/PC; DEA FOR OF, OFF;
USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM BM
SUBJECT: INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO HELP BURMA,S WAR ON DRUGS


RANGOON 00000255 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: At a semi-annual Rangoon meeting of the
Mini-Dublin Group, the countries tracking narcotics in Burma
echoed concerns of the INCSR and UNODC Annual Report. All
agreed that Burma is making credible progress in disrupting
drug trafficking networks and reducing opium cultivation, but
saw increased production of Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS)
as a rising threat. Australia assists Burma to improve
counter-narcotics data collection and border cooperation with
India and Bangladesh. Thailand will add a narcotics liaison
officer to its Embassy in Rangoon. China conducts its own
opium surveys in Burma, using satellites and fieldwork, but
has yet to share its data with others. End summary.

THE VIEW FROM DOWN UNDER
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Japan hosted a semi-annual meeting of the
Mini-Dublin Group in Rangoon on February 28, attended by
U.K., U.S., Italian, German, and Thai diplomats and UNODC,
WFP, and FAO officials. Australia, which will assume duties
as Mini-Dublin Group chair next month, told others that it is
funding a new Drugs Crimes Center in Burma. The Australian
Federal Police (AFP) liaison in Burma, Richard Moses, told
emboff privately that the Australians pushed hard for a
center in Rangoon, rather than Nay Pyi Taw, and succeeded
when the Minister of Home Affairs intervened personally to
approve the location, which will be on the top floor of the
current National Drug Eradication Museum. The GOB's Central
Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC) will use the
center's Australian-provided computers to consolidate data on
drug seizures and trafficking intelligence; Australia will
also train center personnel. With most narcotics information
now scattered around the country at regional commands and
only in paper format, Moses feels the center will greatly
enhance analysis of the narcotics situation.

3. (SBU) Rising ATS production in Burma concerns Australia,
Moses said. A significant volume of precursor chemicals
enter Burma via the Indian border and are stored in Mandalay
before being moved to ATS factories in northern Shan State.
Moses said that a smaller amount of precursors enter from
China, Thailand and Laos. He also reported a worrying
increase in heroin production in southern Shan State, with
the refined product then shipped into Thailand and China via
the Wa and Kokang special districts. UNODC added that new
groups are emerging as ATS traffickers, in addition to past
drug cartels, with new chemists coming from China to train
locals in enhanced refining techniques.

4. (SBU) Cooperation with Thailand remains steady, and
should improve further now that the Thais have added a
narcotics liaison officer position at their Rangoon Embassy.
The most neglected area to date is on Burma's western
borders, Moses said. Australia plans to set up new AFP
liaison offices in 2007 in Dhaka and Delhi, which Moses feels
may help push Bangladesh and India toward greater
counter-narcotics coordination, and the GOB and GOI have
agreed to set up two liaison offices at key border
checkpoints, but Moses described the current situation as
"lots of meetings and no action."

5. (U) China has been working more closely with Burma on
drug issues this year, according to Moses. In addition to
the UNODC's annual survey, the Chinese now conduct their own
opium surveys in Burma, working together with CCDAC in Shan
and Kachin State. According to UNODC, the Chinese field
surveys focused on areas along the China border, which are
now judged to be largely opium-free. The Chinese have not
yet shared their survey results, but UNODC hopes they would
do later this year.

FOOD FOR WORK
-------------------------

RANGOON 00000255 002.2 OF 002

6. (U) Addressing the development situation in former opium
growing areas, WFP country director Christopher Kaye said
that the regime's top-down approach of declaring opium-free
zones without offering other development options left 82
percent of households in those regions without enough income
to meet basic nutritional needs. UNODC surveys indicate that
families in those regions previously drew over half their
household income from poppy cultivation. The amount of rice
they can grow on small plots is not sufficient to feed their
families throughout the year. UNODC, FAO, and WFP programs
from 2004 through 2006 provided 375,000 people at risk with
food-for-work programs to plant new crops and improve local
infrastructure.

7. (U) For the third phase in 2007-08, WFP plans to phase
out direct assistance and focus on alternate livelihoods and
a mosaic of separate NGO projects in both northern and
southern Shan State. WFP's relations with the regional
commanders in 2006 significantly improved from 2005, Kaye
said, and WFP had worked out ways to purchase local rice for
its programs without being taxed. However, WFP and UNODC
remain concerned about the sustainability of program funding
and the difficulty of shifting from direct food aid to
longer-term assistance in areas still unable to generate
sustainable income to feed themselves. UNODC country
director Shariq bin Raza reported that the UN Country Team in
Burma decided in mid-February to bring UNICEF and UNDP into
the program to help transition regional assistance from
emergency relief to long-term development, with UNODC
continuing to play the coordinating role.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Improved coordination with China resulted
in significant seizures and arrests in 2006, and Thailand's
new liaison position and Australia's efforts to train more
CCDAC officers and enhance data collection may also help.
However, Burma's drug traffickers exploit the country's
porous borders with ease and have moved from reliance on
traditional opium growing into new, smaller, more mobile ATS
and heroin processing labs. Until law enforcement can
effectively counter rampant corruption along Burma's borders,
the country's narcotics trade will remain a major headache
for the entire region. End comment.
VILLAROSA

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