U.S., Myanmar Hold Non-Proliferation Talks


U.S. nuclear officials have held talks with their counterparts in Myanmar, weeks after the former pariah nation agreed new safeguards allowing inspections of suspected atomic sites, the U.S. Embassy said Wednesday.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was suspected of pursuing military and nuclear cooperation with Pyongyang during long years of junta rule that ended last year, prompting an easing of many international sanctions including by the U.S.

But amid the warming of ties with Washington, Myanmar's government in November vowed to sign the IAEA's "additional protocol", which grants the U.N. agency access to possible undeclared activities.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security unit met with atomic officials from Myanmar's Ministry of Science and Technology in Naypyidaw between January 9-11, the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

"The purpose of the workshop was to promote awareness of the international safeguards system," it said, adding U.S. Ambassador Derek Mitchell had urged both parties to boost "cooperation in support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime".

An official from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was also present during the workshop.

Discussions with the Americans were "the first step of many that we have to take", Khin Maung Latt of Myanmar's Department of Atomic Energy told Agence France Presse on Wednesday, without giving details of how close the measure was to fruition.

Allegations of nuclear cooperation between Myanmar and North Korea have been a lingering concern for Washington.

Thein Sein's government has denied any covert effort to obtain nuclear weapons technology from North Korea, which is locked in an ongoing atomic showdown with the U.S.

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