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Surprise! Iran Smuggling Uranium Out of Africa (Updated)

by Steven D Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 12:32:12 PM EST

Front paged at Booman Tribune

Stop me if you've heard this one before.  According to the Times (The Sunday Times of London this time) a Middle Eastern oil rich country, the main financier and leader of international terrorism, tried to smuggle uranium out of Africa:

(cont. with Updates #1 and 2 below the fold)

IRAN is seeking to import large consignments of bomb-making uranium from the African mining area that produced the Hiroshima bomb, an investigation has revealed.

A United Nations report, dated July 18, said there was "no doubt" that a huge shipment of smuggled uranium 238, uncovered by customs officials in Tanzania, was transported from the Lubumbashi mines in the Congo.

Tanzanian customs officials told The Sunday Times it was destined for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, and was stopped on October 22 last year during a routine check. [...]

It has also emerged that terror cells backed by Iran may be prepared to mount attacks against nuclear power plants in Britain. Intelligence circulating in Whitehall suggests that sleeper cells linked to Tehran have been conducting reconnaissance at some nuclear sites in preparation for a possible attack.

The parliamentary intelligence and security committee has reported that Iran represented one of the three biggest security threats to Britain. The UN security council has given Iran until the end of this month to halt its uranium enrichment activities. The UN has threatened sanctions if Tehran fails to do so

Please note what the Times doesn't say.  It doesn't say their reporters actually saw this UN report.  It doesn't provide any evidence for the supposed terrorist threat to Britain's nuclear facilities.  It's main source for the report is an unnamed "Tanzanian official."  And what that official has to say seems somewhat incredible:

The customs officer, who spoke to The Sunday Times on condition he was not named, added: "The container was put in a secure part of the port and it was later taken away, by the Americans, I think, or at least with their help. We have all been told not to talk to anyone about this."

Now, for at least two years, the Bush administration has been actively planning for war with Iran, and for longer than that they have been promoting Iran's nuclear program as a serious threat to our Nation.  Can you imagine anyone in the Bush administration keeping this story secret until now when they have been working so hard to build the case that Iran is the most dangerous country on the planet?  This is the Bush administration that trumpets captured Al Qaida members even when their disclosure prematurely disrupted a sting operation to roll up that captured member's confederates in England and elsewhere.

I'm sorry, but this story smacks of a disinformation campaign.  The story originates in another country (just as the Niger yellowcake story did) and then is allowed to percolate into the US media from abroad, giving it the appearance of truthiness.  That was the same the modus operandi employed with the Niger yellowcake story about Saddam's supposed attempts to get uranium out of Africa, a story we now know to be a complete fabrication created or abetted by SISMI, an Italian intelligence Service.

It also ignores the obvious fact that Iran has its own uranium mines, some which began production in 2003 and others which began production this year.  These mines within its borders are more than capable of producing more than enough U-238 for its needs.  Yet, once again we are asked to believe that Iran, rather than using its own uranium, felt the need to smuggle yellowcake out of deepest, darkest Africa.

If this wasn't so serious, the farcical aspects would make me laugh.  These people can't even think of a new lie, they just recycle one they already used for Iraq, hoping no one will notice, I suppose.  Hell, if Iran needed to smuggle uranium, their are far countries it borders who produce more than enough, and our just as corrupt and chaotic as any African nation. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for starters.  Not to mention all the loose nukes and nuclear material in Russia, which may also be available on the black market, should Iran feel the need to go there.  That, instead, they would be involved with a bizarre smuggling scheme to get a miniscule amount of yellowcake ore (50kg per barrel according to the Times article) strikes me as simply ludicrous.  That small quantity of raw ore isn't worth the trouble to smuggle.

Just wait.  This story will be all over the US newspapers and cable news shows by September, along with allegations of how Hizbollah is so tightly controlled by Iran, that Hizbollah will do whatever its masters in Teheran demand, including terror attacks in Britain and the US of A.  And I predict that, in time, it will be proven as false as the Niger yellowcake tale, but not before scaring the holy bejeebus out of the American public this Fall.

Update [2006-8-8 12:26:56 by Steven D]:  Apparently this isn't the first time the Times has reported on uranium smuggling from the Congo.  In 2002, it reported that IRAQ was smuggling uranium from there:

Saddam's nuclear shopping tour (excerpted)

    Michael Evans and Richard Beeston

   September 25, 2002

IRAQI agents have been scouring countries across Africa for uranium to help Saddam Hussein to build nuclear weapons, The Times has learnt.

The dossier released by the Government yesterday noted in passing that Baghdad had recently tried to acquire "significant quantities of uranium from Africa". But what it left out was evidence supplied to the Cabinet Office's Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) showing that Saddam's agents have secretly visited a number of African countries, 13 of which have uranium as a natural resource.

Uranium, once enriched, could form the core of a nuclear bomb, but there is no evidence yet that Saddam has succeeded it acquiring it. "If Iraq had succeeded in buying uranium from Africa, the dossier would have said so," one Whitehall source said.

The Iraqis are known to have targeted the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, though no uranium has been extracted there for several years. The mine that produced the uranium used in the American bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 is in an area controlled by Zimbabwean troops.

They even use the same reference "uranium used in the American bombs dropped on Hiroshima" in both stories.  Nice little touch, that.  Recycling the same phrase to rachet up the fear, because we all know how horrible Hiroshima was.  Naturally, it was never proven that Saddam acquired any uranium from the Congo, depsite the British dossier on the matter back in September 2002.

Update [2006-8-8 13:28:45 by Steven D]: #2: Courtesy of Real History Lisa at Booman, here's a story from Business Day, in which the Democratic Republic of Congo vigorously denies the uranium to Iran story:

KINSHASA — The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government strongly denied yesterday that a uranium shipment left its territory bound for Iran last year. [...]

“It’s a great big lie,” Congolese government spokesman Henri Mova Sakanyi said yesterday. “All our nuclear activities are under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

The [Sunday Times] article said the uranium came from a closed mine in Lubumbashi, was then driven via Zambia into Tanzania, and uncovered during a scan at the port of Dar es Salaam.

“Anyone who knows about uranium knows that it is not exported in raw form in trucks. It must be treated and purified, and we don’t enrich uranium in Congo,” Sakanyi said.

According to UN sources in the Congo, the amount of uranium that can be dug out of the Shinkolobwe mine is next to nothing. The mine is presently exploited illegally for cobalt and coltan- for the Western market.

After the false Niger-Iraq uranium hoax, the Sunday Times perseveres in publishing garbage.

Mobuto's Zaire did have several barrels of processed uranium that they received in the Sixties or Seventies of which perhaps a dozen are still unaccounted for.

Recently the Italian neo-con press published a scoop that had aluminum tubes confiscated in Turkey on their way to Iran. Yep, same ol' tubes for same ol' centrifuges. Just change the enemy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 05:11:30 PM EST
November 14, 2003
Al-Qaida 'bought uranium' in Congo.........

Monday, 12 July, 2004
Earlier this year, the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman found some 6,000 people working there illegally, even though it had officially been shut down...... UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, expressed concern about the mine.
It said that trace elements of uranium might be extracted from the mine as an associated mineral along with the cobalt for use by terror groups...............

SHINKOLOBWE, Congo - Business is booming in the mining zone that supplied uranium for the atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- despite a decree by Congo's president banning all mining activity here..............  

Oh Yes, the story of the Congo-uranium and cobalt is very old but still relevant.
There are now story's about the Chinese to buy the uranium.............

Read my story: D.R. CONGO: Minerals Flow Abroad, Misery Remains as an introduction and read all about it in the mentioned report.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue Aug 8th, 2006 at 05:52:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Mine was a very brief comment. I have read your piece as well as the very good work at Kos last year on the Congo. I see Booman has a good stream of comments that covers the subject.

I'll just wait for that UN report the Sunday Times alleges...

Whatever, the exploitation of mineral resources is mostly in the hands of American, Canadian and European multinationals through Uganda, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwee. It would be so damned easy to set up a scam of this nature to frame the daily enemy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 07:19:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of China's cobalt production, which accounted for 23 % of global output in 2005, and
much of Europe's production, derives from feed materials from the DRC. It is also
estimated that in 2005 75 % to 90 % of China's import of cobalt ores and concentrates came from the DRC. The price of refined cobalt is very volatile and has fluctuated between 8
USD/lb and 26 USD/lb from the beginning of 2000 to April 2004. In mid-January 2006 the
price was around 14 USD/lb (approximately 31.000 USD/metric ton).

Another but unbelievable documented report on the mining in DR Congo from 03/2006 :The State vs. the people - Governance, mining and the transitional regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 10:54:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first quote is scary indeed:
IRAN is seeking to import large consignments of bomb-making uranium from the African mining area that produced the Hiroshima bomb, an investigation has revealed.

"Bomb-making uranium"? Gee, from this description one might think that it's been enriched all the way to weapons grade, ready to go. And it's "from the African mining area that produced the Hiroshima bomb"? Very dangerous. Perhaps they'll dig up another one.

But fortunately, we're only talking about --

...a huge shipment of smuggled uranium 238....

-- that is to say, the isotope of no use in building a fission bomb.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Wed Aug 9th, 2006 at 07:51:01 PM EST

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