Singapore: Myanmar President Thein Sein has
denied his country is trying to obtain nuclear weapons from
North Korea, describing allegations of a covert programme as
"We are not acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea,"
a newspaper on Tuesday quoted him as saying in an
interview during a four-day state visit to Singapore.
"These allegations are unfounded and based on suspicion by
some Western countries."
A 2010 United Nations report accused Pyongyang of
supplying banned nuclear and ballistic equipment to Myanmar,
Iran and Syria.
In a landmark visit to Myanmar in December, US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton called on the country to sever
"illicit ties" with Pyongyang to foster better relations with
Clinton said that Thein Sein had given "strong assurances"
that Myanmar would abide by United Nations resolutions under
which weapons exports from North Korea are banned.
The leader's latest reassurance comes on top of a similar
statement in June 2010, when the then-ruling military junta
said it had no intention of a tie-up with Pyongyang to build
an atomic bomb.
The US also said in November last year it had not detected
any signs of a major nuclear programme in Myanmar and
downplayed defector accounts that the country was developing
an advanced atomic weapons system with North Korea.
Myanmar has maintained that it is too poor to acquire
nuclear weapons and that it has always abided by UN
resolutions, even halting a Russia-backed peaceful nuclear
research programme because of international concerns.
The Southeast Asian country is undergoing a raft of
dramatic political reforms that have surprised critics after
ending almost half a century of military rule about nine
Peace talks and with ethnic rebel groups, pardons of
prominent dissidents and the release of opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi from house arrest have been warmly welcomed by an
initially-sceptical international community.
First Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 14:09