Myanmar's president has said his country is not seeking to import nuclear armaments from North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday (see GSN, Dec. 19, 2011).
"We are not acquiring nuclear weapons from North Korea," President Thein Sein said in a statement reported by the Straits Times on Tuesday. "These allegations are unfounded and based on suspicion by some Western countries."
A U.N. expert panel in a 2010 assessment indicated Myanmar, Iran and Syria had received North Korean ballistic-missile and atomic systems in violation of international restrictions (see GSN, Nov. 11, 2010).
Myanmar should end "illicit ties" to North Korea in order to improve its relationship with the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last month in the Burmese capital (see GSN, Dec. 1, 2011). She added Thein Sein had offered "strong assurances" that his government would respect U.N. Security Council prohibitions on North Korean arms sales.
The Obama administration in November said there were no indications Myanmar had undertaken a significant nuclear weapons effort, and Washington minimized assertions by Burmese dissidents regarding nuclear collaboration between the Southeast Asian nation and North Korea (see GSN, Nov. 30, 2011).
Myanmar has insisted it lacks the financial means to pursue atomic armaments and has consistently complied with U.N. measures, going so far as to cut short a cooperative civilian atomic effort with Russia to assuage fears among other countries, AFP reported (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Jan. 31).