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US nuclear officials have held talks with their counterparts in Burma, weeks after the former pariah nation agreed new safeguards allowing inspections of suspected atomic sites, the US Embassy said Wednesday.
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 US.
But amid the warming of ties with Washington, Burma’s government in November vowed to sign the IAEA’s “additional protocol”, which grants the UN agency access to possible undeclared activities.
Representatives from the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security unit met with atomic officials from Burma’s Ministry of Science and Technology in Naypyidaw between 9-11 January, the US embassy said in a statement.
“The purpose of the workshop was to promote awareness of the international safeguards system,” it said, adding US Ambassador Derek Mitchell had urged both parties to boost “cooperation in support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime”.
An official from the UN’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 Burma’s Department of Atomic Energy told AFP on Wednesday, without giving details of how close the measure was to fruition.
Allegations of nuclear cooperation between Burma 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 US.