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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Russia and Burma in nuclear deal
Burma's military leader Than Shwe at a parade in March 2007
Burma's military government is subject to international sanctions
Russia has agreed to build a nuclear research centre in Burma, state atomic energy agency Rosatom has said.

In a potentially controversial deal, the centre will include a 10MW light-water reactor and facilities for processing and storing nuclear waste.

It will be monitored by the UN nuclear agency, the IAEA, Rosatom said.

The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Burma's military rulers, whom they accuse of widespread human rights abuses.

Nuclear know-how

Rosatom head Sergey Kiriyenko and Burma's Science and Technology Minister U Thaung signed the nuclear deal in Moscow, Rosatom said in a statement.

"The centre will comprise a 10MW light-water reactor working on 20%-enriched uranium-235, an activation analysis laboratory, a medical isotope production laboratory, silicon doping system, nuclear waste treatment and burial facilities," it said.

Map

Russia will train 300-350 specialists for the centre, the statement said. It did not give a timescale for construction.

With 10MW, running on low enriched uranium, the proposed reactor could not be used for a nuclear weapons programme, says the BBC's Steven Eke.

But the deal will again raise questions about Russia's willingness to export nuclear know-how to countries the West considers repressive or hostile, our reporter adds.

Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran - who the US and other nations accuse of trying to develop nuclear weapons - has been a source of tension between Moscow and western nations.

Human rights and arms control organisations have also accused Russia of an unethical willingness to do business with repressive regimes.

The military have ruled Burma since 1962. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose NLD party won general elections in 1990, has been under house arrest in the capital, Rangoon, for several years.




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