Cablegate: Alleged North Korean Involvement in Missile

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



EO 12958 DECL: 08/26/2014

Classified By: CDA, A.I. RON MCMULLEN FOR REASON 1.5 (A/C).

1. (S) SUMMARY: North Korean workers are reportedly assembling “SAM missiles” and constructing an underground facility at a Burmese military site in Magway Division, about 315 miles NNW of Rangoon, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX . This unsolicited account should not be taken as authoritative, but it tracks with other information garnered and reported via XXXXXXXXXXXX. End Summary.


3. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX some 300 North Koreans are working at a secret construction site west of Mimbu, Magway Division, in the foothills of the Arakan Yoma mountains. (Comment: the number of North Koreans supposedly working at this site strikes us as improbably high. End comment.) The XXXXXXXXXXXX claims he has personally seen some of them, although he also reported they are forbidden from leaving the construction site and that he and other “outsiders” are prohibited from entering. The XXXXXXXXXXXX was confident that XXXXXXXXXXXX had the ability to distinguish North Koreans from others, such as Chinese, who might be working in the area. The exact coordinates of the camouflaged site are not known, but it is reportedly in the vicinity of 20,00 N, 94,25 E.

4. (S) The North Koreans are said to be assembling “SAM missiles” of unknown origin. XXXXXXXXXXXX the North Koreans, aided by Burmese workers, are constructing a concrete-reinforced underground facility that is “500 feet from the top of the cave to the top of the hill above.” He added that the North Koreans are “blowing concrete” into the excavated underground facility.

5. (S) The XXXXXXXXXXXX is supposedly engaged in constructing buildings for 20 Burmese army battalions that will be posted near the site. Of these, two battalions are to be infantry; the other 18 will be “artillery,” according to this account.


7. (S) COMMENT: The XXXXXXXXXXXX second-hand account of North Korean involvement with missile assembly and military construction in Magway Division generally tracks with other information Embassy Rangoon and others have reported in various channels. Again, the number 300 is much higher than our best estimates of North Koreans in Burma, and exactly how the XXXXXXXXXXXX allegedly came to see some of them personally remains unclear. Many details provided XXXXXXXXXXXX match those provided by other, seemingly unrelated, sources.

8. (S) COMMENT CONTINUED: We cannot, and readers should not, consider this report alone to be definitive proof or evidence of sizable North Korean military involvement with the Burmese regime. The XXXXXXXXXXXX description made no reference at all to nuclear weapons or technology, or to surface-to-surface missiles, ballistic or otherwise. XXXXXXXXXXXX This account is perhaps best considered alongside other information of various origins indicating the Burmese and North Koreans are up to something ) something of a covert military or military-industrial nature. Exactly what, and on what scale, remains to be determined. Post will continue to monitor these developments and report as warranted. McMullen

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