Tuesday, June 30, 2009

3 held for alleged attempt to export measuring instrument to Myanmar

YOKOHAMA, (Japan Today) — Police arrested three people Monday on suspicion of attempting to export a measuring instrument that could be converted to weapons production to Myanmar without a permit from the Japanese government, police officials said. The suspects, including the 41-year-old president of trading house Toko Boeki in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward and the president of a machinery maker, allegedly attempted to export in January a magnetic measuring instrument, which could be converted to produce missiles and other weapons of mass destruction, from Yokohama port in Kanagawa Prefecture to Myanmar via Malaysia, they said.

The attempted export was discovered before it took place, the Kanagawa police officials said. The Kanagawa police raided locations related to the case in February suspecting that North Korea, which maintains diplomatic relations with Myanmar, could be involved in the deal.

Japan thwarts suspect N Korea-Burma missile device deal

June 30, 2009 (DVB)–Japanese police have arrested three men on suspicion of attempting to illegally export into Burma heavy machinery that could be used in the development of missile systems.

The reports surfaced yesterday on the Japanese news website, Yomiuri Shimbun, who reported that the three men, all Japanese nationals, were charged under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law.

Concerns over Burma’s military ambitions have been heightened in recent weeks with reports that a North Korean ship suspected to be carrying arms was heading in the direction of Burma.

Similarly, photographs obtained by DVB show a network of tunnels built with North Korean assistance beneath the Burmese capital, with leaked documents revealing plans to hold large rockets and satellite communication command centers inside.

The Yomiuri quoted police as saying that the three men, who were working for a Hong Kong-based North Korean trading firm, were caught with a magnetic measuring device “believed necessary for developing long-range ballistic missile systems on instructions from North Korea”.

The export was attempted in January this year, at a cost of around seven million yen (US$73,000). Police reportedly believe that the same firm has transported similar machinery to Burma in the past.

According to the Yomiuri report, the firm’s office in North Korean capital Pyongyang is believed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to be involved in the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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