U.S. Senator Jim Webb says the government of Burma has denied reports that it is trying to acquire nuclear technology.
Speaking to reporters in Bangkok Monday, Senator Webb said he did not
raise the issue when he met with Burma's military leader General Than
Shwe on Saturday. However, he said that the Burmese government denied
having a nuclear program.
Earlier this month, Australian researchers said interviews with
defectors from Burma indicated that the government has a secret nuclear
program, allegedly aided by North Korea.
Webb was also allowed to meet with Burmese democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi on Sunday and told reporters that she might not oppose easing
sanctions on Burma.
Webb said Sunday in Bangkok that Washington must find new ways to bring
change to Burma. He criticized U.S. and EU sanctions on Burma, calling
them "major impediments" to the Burmese people's economic and political
Webb also said Sunday that he asked Than Shwe to free Aung San Suu Kyi
and let her participate in elections next year. The senator arrived in
the Thai capital on a flight from Burma with American John Yettaw.
Before leaving Burma, Webb thanked its government for releasing Yettaw,
who has been in poor health. Yettaw was admitted to a hospital in
Bangkok upon arrival.
Burmese authorities had sentenced him earlier this month to seven years
in prison for swimming across a lake to Aung San Suu Kyi's home. Yettaw
said he believed he was protecting her from attack.
Webb's mission to Burma upset some Burmese dissidents who said it gave
the government a boost without requiring it to free Aung San Suu Kyi or
two female aides detained with her.
A Burmese court extended Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest this past week
by 18 months for alleged violations of security laws in connection with
Yettaw's visit. She has spent 14 of the past 20 years in some form of