Not long ago, Andreas Persbo “blogged about”:http://verificationthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/05/myanmar-has-nothing-or.html the recent “nuclear deal”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070515/wl_nm/russia_myanmar_nuclear_dc_1;_ylt=AlyWkcyvokLr4jm5Sze5P4atubgA concluded between Russia and Myanmar.
Rosatom “supplied details:”:http://www.rosatom.ru/en/news/4674_15.05.2007
The sides have agreed to cooperate on the establishment of a center for nuclear studies in the territory of Myanmar (the general contractor will be Atomstroyexport). *The center will comprise a 10MW light water reactor working on 20%-enriched uranium-235, an activation analysis laboratory, a medical isotope production laboratory, silicon doping system, nuclear waste treatment and burial facilities.*
Russian universities are supposed to train 300–350 specialists for the center.
Andreas took issue with the “State Department’s claim”:http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2007/may/84950.htm that Myanmar lacks the necessary regulatory apparatus for the project. But what I found interesting about the DOS argument is that it seemed to express concern about Myanmar pursuing a nuclear power program – something that’s not involved in the deal with Russia.
Here’s what DOS spokesperson Tom Casey “said”:http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2007/may/84950.htm:
QUESTION: And you — you said that Myanmar, or rather, Burma has neither the regulatory framework nor the legal framework of the kind that you would like to see in such cases.
MR. CASEY: Yeah.
QUESTION: Could you put that in laymen’s terms?
MR. CASEY: Could I put it in laymen’s terms? Well, *they don’t have anything like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They don’t have any standards for safety. They don’t have any oversight or management system for nuclear power. In short, we would be concerned about the possibility for accidents, for environmental damage or for proliferation simply by the possibility of fuel being diverted, stolen or otherwise removed simply because there are no accounting mechanisms or other kinds of security procedures. So this is something that Burma does not have any systems in place to be able to handle, and that certainly is cause for concern.*
QUESTION: So it’s not a good idea for the —
MR. CASEY: That would be the short answer, Sylvie. Yeah, it’s not a good idea.
QUESTION: So the Russians didn’t have a good idea by putting this agreement —
MR. CASEY: Again, I’m not familiar. I know they signed a memorandum of understanding. I’m not sure what the contents are of that or whether — how preliminary this is, but again, we have concerns about this. We wouldn’t want to see a project like this move forward until some of those concerns are addressed.
Presumably, these concerns would all apply to a research reactor, but I wonder if some talking points need updating.
Incidentally, Burma _has_ looked into nuclear power in the recent past. For example, I “wrote a few years ago”:http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2004_05/Burma.asp that
bq. a Burmese Atomic Energy Department employee’s presentation to a 2003 conference in Japan states that *“nuclear power introduction [is] desirable for [the] long term” and Rangoon [Yangon] “should consider small” 100-400 megawatt reactors, perhaps to be introduced around 2025.*
Go outside and play now.