Work commenced last month on a 10MWt research reactor in Myanmar (Burma), near the town of Magwe. The town is north of the country’s capital of Yangon.

The research reactor will be built by Russia’s Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) for Myanmar’s Ministry of Science and Technology. Equipment for the project and the reactor itself is expected to be supplied to Myanmar in 2003.

During the last year more than 200 technicians from Myanmar have undergone training in Moscow and Myanmar recently created its own Ministry of Atomic Energy based in Yangon.

Myanmar told the IAEA last September that it wanted to acquire a nuclear research reactor. Two months later, the IAEA sent an inspection team to Myanmar to assess the country’s preparedness to use and maintain a nuclear reactor safely. The team found the safety standards in place were “well below the minimum the body would regard as acceptable,” said an IAEA official. Myanmar has yet to respond to the IAEA report.