US rejects rumours of plans to store weapons at new Chiang Mai consulate


The US consul general on Wednesday dismissed rumours that the new US consulate in Chiang Mai would be used as a base for hiding weapons to counter China.

“It’s untrue,” US Consul General Sean O'Neill replied when Thai reporters asked him whether there would be “secret weapons” hidden at the new consulate.

O’Neill was speaking to a group of Thai reporters at the US consulate in Chiang Mai on Wednesday morning.

The new consulate is being constructed on the Chiang Mai-Lampang superhighway with a budget of US$284 million.

Because of the high budget, some Thai media have speculated that the US government might build an underground missile depot to point missiles at China.

O’Neill said the building of the new consulate would not be an investment for the US government to increase its power in the region as rumoured but the new consulate aims to improve services for those who contact the consulate.

US rejects rumours of plans to store weapons at new Chiang Mai consulate O’Neill pointed out that the current consulate has already served over 12 million Thais and Americans in the northern part of Thailand.

He said the construction would generate income for local people and 400 workers have got employment.

Construction of the new consulate is scheduled to be completed in March 2024.

He said the new consulate would have an environmentally friendly building, whose design would reflect Chiang Mai’s Lanna culture. It will use modern technologies for conserving energy.

The new consulate will also use advanced wastewater treatment technology that could recycle used water and prevent their release into the surroundings.

US rejects rumours of plans to store weapons at new Chiang Mai consulate “I hereby affirm that the consulate will not be a place for keeping weapons or armaments of the US Army as rumoured,” O’Neill added.

The consul general held the press conference to talk about the operations of the consulate throughout 2021.

He said the US consulate has been operating in Chiang Mai for 72 years and the US government has been providing good cooperation to the Chiang Mai administration through the consulate.

He said the US government had donated $100,000 to the Chiang Mai administration last year to tackle environmental issues and smog.

Apart from the cash, the US government also provided technological assistance by allowing the Chiang Mai administration access to its satellite photo system to be able to monitor forest fires and put them out in time with preciseness.

O’Neill added that the US government also donated air purifiers to many schools in Chiang Mai so that school children could breathe clean air when the province is hit by smog from forest fires.

US rejects rumours of plans to store weapons at new Chiang Mai consulate The consul general said the US government has also provided assistance to Thailand on health issues. Recently, Washington donated 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Bangkok, he added.

On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, O’Neill said the US government understands well that Thailand has several friends. “And the US has no right to tell Thailand to side with any of the friends,” he said.

He said the US government would anyway continue to support Thailand on all issues, especially on national defence and crimes and drug suppression as well as economic cooperation.