YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's military chief says the country plans to use nuclear technology for medical, research and energy purposes but will not develop atomic weapons, a statement that came a month after the government said it would declare any nuclear material in the country.
State media on Saturday reported the comments made by the armed forces commander at the graduation ceremony for the military's Medical Academy.
"In modern medical treatment, nuclear medicine is effectively used to treat cancer with radioactive isotopes and radioactive therapy," Vice Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing told the graduating class on Friday at a ceremony on Yangon.
"The military will not develop nuclear technology to produce weapons of mass destruction but will conduct studies and experiments for peaceful purposes in accordance with international standards to use in the medical sector, in laboratory research for science and in the electrical energy sector," the Myanmar-language state-owned Myanma Ahlin reported. English language dailies did not carry the comments.
There has long been speculation, bolstered by reports from defectors, that Myanmar may be secretly developing a nuclear program of some sort with the help of North Korea.
The reformist government of President Thein Sein last month announced it would sign an international agreement that would require it to declare all nuclear facilities and materials. Although it would be up to Myanmar to decide what to declare, it could provide some answers concerning its acquisition of dual-use machinery and its military cooperation with Pyongyang that the U.S. and other nations regard as suspect.