05/18/2007, 00.00
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Moscow will offer Myanmar it’s first nuclear reactor

Russia's federal atomic energy agency has signed an agreement with the Burmese regime to build it’s first nuclear power plant. The project aims to balance ex Burma’s total dependence on neighbouring power China. The US protests: too high a risk.

Mosca (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russia will provide Myanmar with it’s first nuclear reactor. The move has dismayed the United States which has long campaigned for an acceleration in ex Burma’s democratic process.  Russia's federal atomic energy agency,  Rosatom, said it had reached a deal with the military junta to build a nuclear research centre. The plant will have a light-water reactor with a capacity of 10MW. It will use 20 per cent-enriched nuclear fuel.

Russia's federal atomic energy agency insisted Myanmar had a right to peaceful nuclear technology - and said that there was "no way" it could use the reactor to develop nuclear missiles. The United States do not agree, they claim the country is not equipped with the necessary security standards to handle the atomic material; US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said main concerns include “the possibility for accidents, for environmental damage, or for proliferation simply by the possibility of fuel being diverted, stolen or otherwise removed”.

Moscow maintains that construction of the Burmese nuclear power plan twill take place under the strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA.  It is still unknown, however where exactly the plan twill be built; unofficial sources speak of Pwint Phyu, a small city in the centre of the country, in the region of Magwe.

Myanmar has been under US and European sanctions since 1990, when the junta refused to accept the election victory of the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The impact of the sanctions has been muted, however, because of countries such as China, India, Russia and Thailand, which are spending billions of dollars to gain a share of Myanmar's vast energy resources. Analysts believe its leaders have sought Russia's help in an attempt to balance its traditional and lopsided dependence on China.


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