US Welcomes Myanmar Signing Nuclear Agreement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday welcomed Myanmar’s signing of an agreement with the U.N. atomic watchdog that will require it to declare any nuclear activities and allow inspections — the latest step by the former pariah nation toward openness.

But citing concern about human rights abuses and ties with North Korea, Republican lawmakers urged caution in further deepening U.S. ties with Myanmar’s powerful military.

The Obama administration has moved rapidly to ease sanctions against Myanmar as it has undertaken democratic reforms after decades of repressive military rule. The engagement policy has been motivated partly by a desire to cut the military ties that the former ruling junta forged with North Korea.

On Tuesday, Myanmar took a step long urged by Washington: the signing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Additional Protocol to its existing safeguards agreements. That could help address lingering suspicions that the secretive junta may have pursued a nuclear weapons program. The State Department said Thursday the protocol would help move the country also known as Myanmar “increasingly in line with international nonproliferation norms and standards.”

Independent nonproliferation experts also welcomed the signing as a promising step, but said it could take several years for Myanmar to ratify and bring the agreement into force. more…