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September 17, 2013

Burma Signs New Nuclear Deal With IAEA

by VOA News

Burma and the U.N. nuclear agency have signed an agreement that will give international inspectors wider access to Burmese facilities.

The agreement, called an Additional Protocol, was signed Tuesday by Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.

The move will help clear lingering suspicions that Burma had been trying to develop nuclear weapons during the country's long military rule that ended last year.

U Ye Htut, a spokesman for Burmese President Thein Sein, said the agreement will be very helpful. "Although we have initially said that we don’t have any plans to use nuclear energy to develop nuclear weapons, we have been under suspicion. First, by signing this Additional Protocol, it helps to clear away this doubt. The second, this will lead the way for Burma to get opportunities, assistance in nuclear technology for use of peaceful means energy, medical research, agriculture and other research work."

David Albright, President and Founder of The Institute for Science and International Security, said the new agreement is important, but the concerns over a Burmese nuclear weapons program are small.

"I don't think the suspicions are that strong. Whatever Burma did, it was small... small scale nuclear efforts. My organization reviewed a lot of allegations about Burma's nuclear efforts and we thought most of them were not substantiated."

Burma, which joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty in 1992, already is receiving IAEA assistance on matters such as accounting and control of nuclear material, and using radiation for medical and agricultural purposes.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.