Myanmar Regime Opens Nuclear Info Center in Yangon

By The Irrawaddy 7 February 2023

Junta boss Min Aung Hlaing presided at the opening of Myanmar’s first nuclear technology information center on Monday, as the military officially embarked on its atomic power program.

The junta chief left his base in Naypyitaw and joined with Alexey Likhachev, director general of Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom, to oversee the center’s launch in Hlaing Township, Yangon.

Min Aung Hlaing and Likhachev sprinkled scented water over the plaque at the information center in a blessing ritual to invite success for the project.

The two also inked an agreement for cooperation between the Russian and Myanmar regimes in 14 areas of nuclear technology development. Though the main purpose of the cooperation is to develop nuclear reactors to generate electricity for Myanmar, the two also discussed the use of nuclear technology in health, agriculture, and industrial manufacturing.

The agreement promised ‘peaceful use of atomic energy’ in the Burmese and Russian versions of the document. However, skepticism over that claim is warranted given the two countries involved have launched brutal military campaigns against civilian populations.

The junta has not disclosed the location of a small modular reactor to be built by Rosatom, but information leaked from a military office said it would be built near Naypyitaw, the administrative capital and home of the generals.

The deputy director general of Rosatom visited Naypyitaw in December to discuss potential sites for the nuclear reactor with deputy junta chief General Soe Win.

Junta media said the deal also involves cooperation on nuclear disaster safety, security and emergency response in line with the 19 requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The design of Myanmar’s nuclear technology information center mimics its counterpart in St Petersburg, according to a source from the junta’s science and technology ministry.

“The center showcases the benefits of nuclear technology,” said the ministry source, who attended the opening on Monday.

Security was tightened on Monday in and around the Hlaing University Campus which houses the nuclear information technology center, he added.

The center’s launch is the latest step on Myanmar’s path to nuclear capability following a memorandum of understanding signed with Russia in St. Petersburg in June 2015.

The Myanmar military has made rapid moves to acquire nuclear technology since staging a coup in February 2021. The regime and Rosatom signed a roadmap for “peaceful use of atomic energy in 2023 and 2024” at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last September.