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But the Obama administration has said the military trade between the two Asian nations appears to have been in small arms and missiles, itself in violation of current U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

According to the U.S. government, under a November 2008 accord the North agreed to help Myanmar build medium-range, liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. Two North Korean ships suspected to be heading to Myanmar with military cargoes in 2009 and 2011 were tracked by the U.S. Navy and turned around. And in July this year, even as the U.S. was easing investment restrictions on Myanmar, it sanctioned the country’s primary arms manufacturer, saying North Korean experts were active at its facilities.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said Myanmar has taken “positive steps” toward severing the military ties with North Korea. He also welcomed Thein Sein’s agreement to sign the additional protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced on the eve of Obama’s visit, saying it would bring Myanmar “into a nonproliferation regime that is important to the United States and the world.”

Myanmar’s current agreement with the IAEA requires little in terms of disclosure, and the government was unresponsive when the Vienna-based agency in late 2010 sought an inspection.

Albright and Stricker said Myanmar should answer questions the IAEA has about any past nuclear activities and the procurement of sensitive equipment. They also urged it to invite U.N. experts to visit the country and answer questions about past suspicious transfers and cooperation with North Korea.

But how quickly Myanmar moves to sign the protocol — it says it first needs parliament’s approval — and then ratify it, remains to be seen, as does whether it discloses any useful information.

“At the moment Burma has already been asked in public what they have and they say ‘nothing,’ so the list provided to IAEA could be short or blank,” said Robert Kelley, a former IAEA director who believes Myanmar has pursued a nuclear weapons program.

The military, which has dominated for five decades and also is heavily represented in Myanmar’s fledgling parliament, is likely to oppose scrutiny of sensitive sites.

“The concern of the international community will not pause until full disclosure of the North Korea-Burma relationship is achieved,” Lugar said.