25 Juni 2010

More North Korean Rockets Reported in Myanmar

25 Juni 2010

The M1991 MLRS is a more powerful version of the older M1985. It has 22 launching tubes and fires the same 240-mm rockets. It has various warhead capabilities, including HE-FRAG, smoke, incendiary and chemical. A standard HE-FRAG warhead weights 90 kg and contains 45 kg of explosives. A claimed maximum range of fire is 43 km. (photo : Military Today)

More North Korean Rockets Reported in Burma

North Korean-made truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems have been reportedly set up at Burmese army bases in northern, eastern and central Burma, according to military sources.

The North Korean rockets were recently delivered to missile operation commands in Mohnyin in Kachin State, Naungcho and Kengtung in Shan State and Kyaukpadaung in Mandalay Division, sources said. Missile operation commands were reportedly formed in 2009.

It is not clear when the multiple launch rocket systems were shipped from North Korea. However, military sources said delivery of rocket launchers mounted on trucks occurred several times in recent years.

Sources said they witnessed at least 14 units of 240-mm truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems arrive at Thilawa Port near Rangoon on the North Korean vessel, Kang Nam I, in early 2008. Previous reports said Burma had purchased 30 units of 240-mm truck-mounted multiple launch rocket systems from North Korean.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, North Korea produces two different 240mm rocket launchers, the 12-round M-1985 and the 22-round M-1991. The M-1985 rocket pack is easily identified by two rows of six rocket tubes mounted on a cab behind an engine chassis. The M-1991 is mounted on a cab over an engine chassis. Both launch packs can be adapted to a suitable cross-country truck.

The Kang Nam I was believed enroute to Burma again in June 2009. However, it reversed course and returned home after a US Navy destroyer followed it amid growing concern that it was carrying illegal arms shipments.

However, more arms shipments from North Korea appear to have been delivered to Burma in 2009-2010. The latest report about a North Korean vessel's arrival was in April. The ship, the Chong Gen, docked at Thilawa Port. Last week, the junta acknowledged that the Chong Gen was at the port, but it denied involvement in any arms trading with Pyongyang, saying Burma follows UN Security Council resolution 1874 which bans arms trading with North Korea. The junta said the North Korean vessel came to Burma with shipments of cement and exported rice.

According to reports by Burma military experts Maung Aung Myoe and Andrew Selth, purchasing multiple-launch rocket systems is a part of the junta’s military modernization plan. While the junta has acquired 107-mm type 63 and 122-mm type 90 multiple-launch rocket from China, North Korea has provided it with 240-mm truck-mounted launch rocket.

Some experts have said North Korea is also involved in a secret relationship with Burma for the sale of short and medium-range ballistic missiles and the development of underground facilities. Other experts and Burmese defectors claim that North Korea is also providing Burma with technology designed to create a nuclear program.

Burma severed its relationship with North Korea in 1983 following North Korean agents’ assassination of members of a South Korean delegation led by President Chun Doo Hwan. The two countries restored relations in early 1990s and officially re-establish diplomatic ties in April 2007.

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