Iran strikes secret nuclear mining deal with Zimbabwe’s Mugabe regime

Iran has struck a secret deal with Zimbabwe to mine its untapped uranium reserves in a move to secure raw material for its steadily expanding nuclear programme.

Itai Mushekwe and Harriet Alexander
The Sunday Telegraph [UK]
25 Apr 2010

 Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) stands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a parade in Bulawayo  Photo: AFP

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) stands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a parade in Bulawayo Photo: AFP

The agreement was sealed last month during a visit to Tehran by a close aide to Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president who last weekend celebrated 30 years in power, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

In return for supplying oil, which Zimbabwe desperately needs to keep its faltering economy moving, Iran has been promised access to potentially huge deposits of uranium ore – which can be converted into the basic fuel for nuclear power or enriched to make a nuclear bomb.

“Iran secured the exclusive uranium rights last month when minister of state for Presidential affairs, Didymus Mutasa visited Tehran,” said a Zimbabwean government source. “That is when the formal signing of the deal was made, away from the glare of the media.”

Mr Mutasa is the former lands minister in the Zanu-PF administration and one of Mr Mugabe’s most senior aides.

The revelation came after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, visited Zimbabwe last week to show his support for Mr Mugabe. At a lavish official dinner in his honour on Thursday evening, Mr Ahmadinejad blasted what he termed “expansionist countries” for exerting “satanic pressures on the people of Zimbabwe”, adding: “We believe victory is ours, and humiliation and defeat is for our enemies.” …

…The uranium deal will heighten fears in the West that Iran is stepping up its nuclear programme, which intelligence agencies believe is intended to lead to the development of nuclear weapons in the near future…

…Most of Iran’s uranium came from South Africa during the 1970s, but its stockpiles are running low, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt, so its access to Zimbabwe’s reserves has been granted at a crucial moment.

The government source added: “The uranium deal is the culmination of a lot of work dating back to 2007, when Mr Mugabe visited Tehran in search of fuel. Now Iran is beginning to reap the benefits…

The complete article is at The Sunday Telegraph.

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