News / Africa

Ahmadinejad to Visit Uranium Producer Niger

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) waves next to Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi (R) as he arrives in Cotonou April 14, 2013.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) waves next to Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi (R) as he arrives in Cotonou April 14, 2013.
Reuters
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to arrive on Monday in Niger, the world's number 4 uranium producer, where French nuclear group Areva has seen its monopoly tested by a government looking to diversify its partners.

Niger is the second of three stops on a trip aimed at deepening Iran's ties with Africa, a continent Ahmadinejad has courted for business deals and diplomatic support as the Islamic Republic becomes increasingly isolated by international sanctions targeting its disputed nuclear program. Some Western analysts say Iran may be close to exhausting its reserves of raw uranium crucial to its nuclear activity and could have to seek out foreign sources of supply.

Last week, Iran said operations had begun at two uranium mines and a milling plant in the country and that Western opposition would not slow its nuclear work.

Ahmadinejad will be coming from Benin. After Niger he will go on to oil-producing Ghana in what is expected to be his last Africa tour before he steps down in June after completing the second of a maximum two terms as president.

It was not clear if any deal with Niger was on the table during Ahmadinejad's trip, but his Nigerien counterpart said last month he wanted to renegotiate the terms of its nuclear business with Areva.

On the eve of Ahmadinejad's arrival, a local student's union called for Niger to strike a uranium deal with Iran.

"Areva has exploited us for over 40 years. What the Nigerien people need is a fair partnership,'' the union said in statement broadcast on private television stations.

There is broad frustration in Niger that one of the world's least developed nations straddling the Sahara has not benefited more from decades of mining by Areva in its remote desert north. Earlier this month, several thousand people protested on the streets of Niamey against Areva, burning French flags.

Talks are continuing between France and Niger, and Areva has agreed to pay Niger 35 million euros ($45.84 million) in compensation over delays to the planned Imouraren project. But France remains an important partner for Niger, providing some 50 million euros in budgetary support last year on top of various other aid projects.

Iran has denied having shortages of raw uranium, and says its mines can supply the ore needed for its nuclear activity.

But a report this month by U.S. think-tanks Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of American Scientists said the scarcity and low quality of Iran's uranium resources compel it "to rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium."

It added, "Despite the Iranian leadership's assertions to the contrary, Iran's estimated uranium endowments are nowhere near sufficient to supply its planned nuclear program.''

Iran denies Western accusations that it is stockpiling enriched uranium as potential nuclear weapons fuel, not for future civilian power stations as it maintains.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs