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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 July, 2003, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Burma condemns US sanctions
Burmese pro-democracy supporter outside the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo
Aung San Suu Kyi's detention has triggered worldwide protests
Burma's military government has criticised United States moves to impose economic sanctions, describing them as "weapons of mass destruction".

In a faxed statement, officials in Rangoon said sanctions shut down interaction, stopped the flow of ideas and deprived people of job opportunities.

The statement, which was entitled "Sanctions used as weapons of mass destruction", came hours after an almost unanimous vote by the lower house of the US Congress in favour of sanctions.

The bill, approved amid increasing anger at the detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, mirrored similar measures approved by the US Senate a month ago.

Once the two houses have merged their versions of the act, and President George W Bush signs it, specified Burmese imports will be banned and the country's assets in the US frozen.

Burma's textile and clothing industry is likely to be hardest hit by the measures, which were welcomed by some opposition groups in exile.

International pressure seems to have produced few results
BBC Burma analyst Larry Jagan

But a representative of the International Labour Organisation in Rangoon, Hong Trang Perret-Nguyen, told the BBC: "Whether it will have an impact on the leadership is not clear at all".

Congress shied away from imposing similar sanctions last year, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house detention.

But her detention at the end of May and the suppression of her movement, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has quickly hardened attitudes in Washington.

The US, like many of Burma's Asian neighbours, rejects the military government's assertion that it was forced to act because the NLD was plotting an armed uprising.

Instead, Washington's Burmese democracy bill calls on the international community to support the NLD, and to further isolate the military government.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Jill McGivering
"In Washington support for Tuesday's bill was overwhelming"



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