Iran, Nigeria Make Nuke Agreement
Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 By AP / BASHIR ADIGUN
(ABUJA, Nigeria) — An Iranian trade delegation announced an agreement Thursday for Iran to share peaceful nuclear technology with Nigeria, to help Africa's biggest oil producer bolster its woeful electricity-generation capacity.
Officials of both countries stressed that the agreement involves only the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
Iran is under sanctions for defying UN. Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment until it answers Western suspicions its nuclear program is trying to develop atomic weapons. Iran insists its program is intended only to use nuclear reactors to generate electricity.
Iran, with Russian help, is finishing construction of its first nuclear-powered electricity station, a 1,000-megawatt reactor in the southern city of Bushehr scheduled to begin operation early next year. The Tehran regime has said it plans to build six more nuclear plants by 2021.
Mohammad Ali Zeyghami, a commerce official leading the Iranian delegation, said Iran has the right to share its nuclear know-how with Nigeria. He said oil and other fossil fuels will run out one day and it is crucial to develop other energy sources.
"Nobody can limit the use of knowledge anywhere in the world," Zeyghami said.
Details of the deal were not announced, so it was unclear what technology Iran would provide to Nigeria, which does not have a nuclear energy program now.
Tijanni Kaura, a senior Nigerian Foreign Ministry official, said the agreement deals only with peaceful nuclear technology and shouldn't be seen as an attempt by Africa's most populous nation to start an atomic weapons program.
"Nigeria is never entering into any agreement with Iran for any matter that has to do with weapons," Kaura said.
"There shouldn't be a misunderstanding between exploration or uses of energy to provide power and the uses of energy for weapons , so that our relationship with Iran will not be misconstrued by Nigerians and the entire international community."
Nigeria is Africa's biggest petroleum producer, but decades of neglect and corruption in the energy sector have left the country with almost no way to refine crude oil into fuels used to power electricity-generating stations.
Most of the country's 140 million people get only a few hours of state-provided electricity a day, and businesses must rely on costly diesel generators to power their plants.