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Burma denies nuclear programme

Burma's military junta denied it is developing a nuclear weapons programme, decrying such allegations as groundless and politically motivated.

State radio and television news reported the Foreign Ministry's denial, which claimed that anti-government groups in collusion with the media had launched the allegations with the goal of "hindering Burma's democratic process and to tarnish the political image of the government."

A week earlier, the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma, a Burma exile news service, charged that the junta, aided by North Korea, is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme with the aim of developing a bomb and long-range missiles.

It said its conclusions were based on a five-year study and revelations by a recent Burmese army defector. The report was issued as a US senator postponed a trip to Burma, saying it was a bad time for such a visit because of new allegations that its military regime was collaborating with North Korea to develop a nuclear programme.

Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, has been a leading proponent of greater engagement with Burma. The United States has generally shunned the military regime, imposing political and economic sanctions because of its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.

The Foreign Ministry statement said the weapons allegation were based merely on "information provided by army deserters, defectors and dissidents which are inaccurate, unfair and unreliable" and came at a time when the United States was trying to engage Burma.

Alleging that Burma's government is pursuing nuclear capabilities is not "conducive to regional and international stability," the statement said. "Burma, which is a developing nation, lacks adequate infrastructure, technology and finance to develop nuclear weapons."

A separate Foreign Ministry news release said the Burma defector, Sai Thein Win, who had smuggled out files and photographs, was a captain in the army and had a degree in power engineering from State Technical University in Moscow in 2004.

It said he was an army deserter who was absent from his job since February 2010, but did not specify where Sai had worked.

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