‘IAEA wants to visit suspect nuclear sites in Myanmar’

The UN atomic watchdog has asked Myanmar to be allowed to visit a number of suspect nuclear sites and facilities, a source said.

Vienna: The UN atomic watchdog has asked
Myanmar to be allowed to visit a number of suspect nuclear
sites and facilities, a source close to the agency said on Thursday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "has
sent an official letter to Myanmar requesting access" to the
sites, the source told a news agency, speaking on condition of
anonymity.

The source was not aware whether any response had been
received as yet.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the
IAEA`s safeguards department, which has already sought details
in recent months from the Southeast Asian country about a
purported nuclear drive, had sent a letter to the ruling
military junta.

The watchdog`s request for information comes at a time
when the United States and some Asian countries have expressed
heightened concern about military -- and possible nuclear --
collaboration between Myanmar and North Korea.

Washington has suspected for years that Myanmar has a
secret nuclear programme with the support of Pyongyang.

According to recent diplomatic cables leaked by the
the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, witnesses have reported
suspicious activity as far back as 2004, with dockworkers and
foreign businessmen saying they had seen evidence of alleged
secret nuclear and missile weapons sites being built deep in
the Myanmar jungle.

The IAEA had decided to seek more information as the
concerns were serious enough to warrant a request for access,
the source said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Myanmar could
face a tough international reaction if it rejects the IAEA
request for audits of the purported nuclear sites.

Nevertheless, officials and experts have expressed
uncertainty over the country`s atomic intentions, the
newspaper added.

A large portion of the equipment said to have been
sought by Myanmar has non-nuclear uses, and defectors might
have exaggerated the nation`s nuclear ambitions for political
reasons, it quoted proliferation analysts and former IAEA
staffers as saying.

PTI

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