India faces the imminent prospect of another nuclear weapons country as its neighbour, as reports in the media indicate that Myanmar, which is on the eastern border, might have embarked on an atomic weapons programme.
Though Myanmar cannot be identified as a hostile country like Pakistan, but its military junta is believed to have closer ties with China than with India [ Images ], thus posing another strategic challenge to Indian policy makers.
In an investigative story, Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma has reported that the Burmese military junta has started a nuclear-weapons programme.
The report with a lot of documentary evidences, including pictures and videos, is based on information provided by a Burmese army defector called Maj Sai.
In an online article on DVB, Robert Kelley, a former inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the evidence suggests that Burma is planning to build nuclear weapons rather than a nuclear power plant.
"The information provided by (Major) Sai and other reporters from Burma clearly indicates that the regime has the intent to go nuclear and it is... expending huge resources along the way," Kelley said.
However, the Burmese military junta has strongly refuted authenticity of the report and alleged that it is "politically" motivated.
"Myanmar has all along supported the legitimate rights of every state to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
"While supporting non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Myanmar supports the principles of non-politicising the NPT and non-discrimination against developing countries in the NPT implementation," said a statement issued by Myanmar's foreign ministry.
It said exerting pressure on Myanmar based on "groundless nuclear accusations" and making allegations with political intent to intervene in the internal affairs or with geopolitical strategic purpose will in no way contribute to the regional and international peace and stability.
The United States expressed serious concern over the Myanmar's possible nuclear weapons programme and said this would destabilise the region.
"Whether there is some kind of serious nuclear programme in Burma, which certainly would be tremendously destabilising to the entire region," Scott Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Ambassador to ASEAN Affairs Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
"But second is also the Burmese acquisition of other military equipment conventional, which also can affect regional stability," she said.
Image: Myanmar's junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe attends the Armed Forces Day parade in capital Naypyidaw
Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters