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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 18:34 GMT
Burma to get nuclear reactor
Two men sitting on veranda, Rangoon
Burma suffers chronic fuel shortages
The Burmese military government has confirmed that it plans to build a nuclear reactor with help from Russia.

In the first official statement on the issue, the Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win said it would be used for peaceful purposes.

What we are doing is totally above board

Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win
He said it was imperative for developing countries like Burma to seek to narrow the development gap and avoid their being marginalised.

He also pointed out that all Burma's neighbours, with the exception of Laos, were reaping the benefits of nuclear research reactors.

He said there was nothing sinister about Burma's ambitions and that it had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intention to acquire a research reactor.

"What we are doing is totally above board and (there's) nothing clandestine as written in several media reports," Kin Maung Win told reporters.

He dismissed reports that IAEA had last year raised concerns about safety standards in Burma. He also rejected reports that two nuclear scientists from Pakistan had been given sanctuary in Burma.

Earlier this month Burma's Foreign Minister, Win Aung, told the BBC his country was committed to developing a nuclear research facility for medical purposes and possibly to generate nuclear power.

Burma has a chronic energy shortage and faces various sanctions on investment and foreign aid, particularly from Western countries.

Diplomats in Rangoon say authorities have trouble maintain existing electricity generators let alone a nuclear reactor.

See also:

09 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma frees Suu Kyi's cousin
04 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's opposition breaks silence
03 Dec 01 | Business
Fund giants warn against Burma trade
15 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
ILO builds pressure over forced labour
12 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Power changes in Burmese junta
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's slow road to reform
11 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Aung San Suu Kyi urges caution
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