[lbo-talk] Russia to build nuclear reactor in Myanmar

uvj at vsnl.com uvj at vsnl.com
Thu May 24 17:05:55 PDT 2007


Russia to build nuclear reactor in Myanmar http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL1565024820070515

Tue May 15, 2007

By James Kilner

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's atomic energy agency said on Tuesday it had signed a deal to build a nuclear research reactor in Myanmar, whose military rulers have been criticized by the West for repressive and undemocratic practices.

"This agreement provides for cooperation in the design and construction in Myanmar of a centre for nuclear research," Rosatom said in a statement. The centre will include a 10 megawatt nuclear reactor with low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 percent uranium-235, the agency said.

It said the research centre would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Russia, along with China, has become a major supporter and supplier of arms to Myanmar's junta since the West imposed sanctions in late 1988. Last year China and Russia vetoed a U.S-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution urging Myanmar to stop persecution and release political prisoners.

Myanmar has recently repaired ties with North Korea, damaged when a North Korean bomb in 1983 killed South Korean ministers visiting Myanmar. The United States considers North Korea a rogue state and wants it to abandon its nuclear arms program.

Russia is already building a nuclear power station in Iran, suspected by the United States of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Russia says Iran has a right to civilian nuclear power.

A 2004 research paper by the Australian National University said Myanmar had asked Russia in 2000 for help in starting a nuclear civilian program but that Moscow backed out of the plan in 2003.

No Myanmar government officials were available for comment but an Asian diplomat in the main city of Yangon said original negotiations between the two countries over Myanmar's nuclear program had fallen through because they could not agree on payment details.

"With a billion dollar annual trade surplus for the last few years, the regime now seems to be able to pay in cash," he said. "And that is what the Russians demanded."

Yangon has suffered from power black outs over recent years as Myanmar's economy shows signs of creaking under what observers say has been 45 years of economic mismanagement by the military.

But 385 km (240 miles) north of Yangon, the junta's newly built capital Nay Pyi Taw is basking in light.

The military has run Myanmar since 1962, ignoring a 1990 landslide election victory by Aung San Suu Kyi, opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been under house arrest ever since.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun in YANGON)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

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