This deal is the most short-sighted possible attempt to poke a finger in the eye of the West, when the stakes involve the possibility of an Iranian government making mushroom clouds with the dual goal of genocide against Israel and trying to hurry along the Shi’ite Islam’s expectations for the Apocalypse.
You stay classy, Mugabe. “Zimbabwe to sell uranium to Iran,” by Aislinn Laing for the Telegraph, March 6:
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe’s foreign minister, said the sanctions — which prohibit member states from providing Iran with raw materials that it could use to make a nuclear weapon — were unfair and hypocritical.
He said that Zimbabwe, which is also the subject of sanctions over human rights abuses perpetrated by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters, would benefit economically from the agreement.
A leaked intelligence report suggests Iran will be awarded with exclusive access to Zimbabwe’s uranium in return for providing the country with fuel.
The report — compiled by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog — said Iran’s Foreign and Co-operative Ministers had visited Zimbabwe to strike a deal, and sent engineers to assess uranium deposits.
Experts say the move contradicts Iran’s claim that it now has enough domestic uranium supplies to sustain its nuclear energy ambitions. They say Zimbabwe’s defiance of sanctions and its support for the pariah state will scare those considering investing in its economy, which is only just starting to recover after years of hyperinflation.
Uranium ore, or yellow cake, can be converted to a uranium gas which is then processed into nuclear fuel or enriched to make nuclear weapons. The UN imposed fresh sanctions on Iran last year after it refused to halt uranium enrichment.
Zimbabwe’s uranium stocks consist of an estimated 455,000 tons at Kanyemba, north of Harare. One metallurgist with knowledge of the deposit said it would take two to three years of development before it produced uranium and it would be exhausted in about five years. Mr Mumbengegwi said: “Zimbabwe has rich uranium reserves, but is faced with shortage of funds and does not possess the technical knowledge and equipment needed for extracting [them] … Any country has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy based on international rules.”
Mr Mugabe has previously dismissed as “illegal” the US and EU sanctions that target him and members of his regime.
“Western states follow the approach of sanctions towards countries which do not yield to their domination and act against their interests,” Mr Mumbengegwi, a member of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, said.
People close to the UN confirmed that Zimbabwe would be in direct contravention of sanctions if it sold uranium to Iran, but admitted the international body could do little to punish it.
Ben Rhode, a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said there would be concern about the deal internationally. “Iran already has a guaranteed fuel supply from Russia for the lifetime of its Bushehr power reactor,” he said. “It is therefore difficult to understand the peaceful, commercial nature of such a procurement.”
Judy Smith-Hohn, of South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, said Mr Mugabe’s Movement for Democratic Change partners in Zimbabwe’s fragile coalition, could veto the deal. “Because the world is looking the other way, towards events in North Africa, the Zimbabwean authorities are testing the boundaries and this is most likely part of it,” she said.