Myanmar Signs Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons

By The Irrawaddy 27 September 2018

YANGON—Myanmar signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) at a ceremony which took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Wednesday, a move given the green light by parliament last week.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myanmar, Union Minister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin signed the treaty during the United Nations General Assembly which Myanmar representatives were attending.

In the second week of September, President U Win Myint got parliament’s approval to sign the TPNW. Military representatives also voted in favor of signing the treaty.

U Kyaw Tin told lawmakers in the parliament that “the government supports nuclear disarmament.” He said the Myanmar government believes nuclear disarmament is the only way to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and the use of such weapons, whether intentional or accidental.

Military representative to the Lower House Lt-Col Zaw Tun Oo said in parliament that signing the treaty would clear up any doubts as to whether Myanmar is developing nuclear weapons.

According to the “Signature and Ratification” terms of the Treaty, members need to follow a comprehensive set of prohibitions against participating in any nuclear weapon activities such as undertakings not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The treaty also prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory and the provision of assistance to any state in the conduct of prohibited activities.

Myanmar became a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1992, and signed the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in 1995, committing not to develop nuclear weapons. The country also signed the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and a Small Quantities Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1995.

However, Myanmar attracted global concern in the 2000s during a time when the country’s then-military rulers maintained close relations with North Korea on arms sales, nuclear missiles development and nuclear warhead technology. The Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative claimed Myanmar had developed relations with North Korea in the hope of receiving missile and nuclear weapon technologies.

Myanmar signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 2016 but has not yet ratified it.

A total of 67 countries have signed the treaty and 19 have agreed to sign it, including ASEAN members Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam, according to the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.