Ministry dismisses UK story on uranium sales to Iran

Temba Dube Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development yesterday described as lies reports that Zimbabwe has signed a deal with Iran to sell raw material for nuclear weapon production. The story was published by a British newspaper, The Times of London on Saturday and penned by journalists Jerome Starkey and Jan Raath. In a statement, Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary Mr Prince Mupazviriho, who also chairs Zimbabwe’s Mining Board Affairs, said the article was malicious.

Police in the country have since launched a manhunt for the two on allegations of spreading a falsehood.
“The Minister of Mines and Mining Development would like to inform the public that the article which appeared in The Times of London on the 10th of August 2013 alleging that the Government of Zimbabwe has signed an agreement with Iran to sell raw materials for nuclear weapon production is a blatant lie fabricated to maliciously taint the image of Zimbabwe especially after having successfully conducted peaceful, free and fair harmonised elections,” said Mr Mupazviriho.

“The Ministry categorically states that there has never been any application for a mining concession or any discussion whatsoever for a Memorandum of Understanding with Iran.”

He said his Ministry was left wondering what the purpose of the article was, besides soiling the positive image of the country, various local, regional and international monitors and observers on the just concluded elections.

Mr Mupazviriho said the country did not have a uranium mine.
He said the country had never issued a mining licence to any Iranian company.

On Saturday, outgoing Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Mr Gift Chimanikire, denied statements attributed to him in the article.
He described the article as “silly, speculative and dangerous.”

Mr Chimanikire said Government had not issued a uranium mining licence since exploration was still being conducted in Kanyemba, Zambezi Valley.
The outgoing Deputy Minister said Starkey had deliberately misrepresented information he gave him in an interview on Thursday to tarnish the image of Zimbabwe.

Mr Chimanikire, a high ranking MDC-T official, was quoted saying Starkey approached him for the interview, while also clearly demonstrating a pre-conceived agenda to soil Zimbabwe’s diamond trade.

The Times story was published under the headline “Mugabe signs secret deal to sell uranium to Tehran,” and was picked up by numerous news agencies.
Starkey and Raath alleged the Government undertook to supply Iran raw material for nuclear weapon production, in breach of international sanctions.

The article could have easily invited serious punitive measures against Zimbabwe through much stringent international sanctions.
The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, citing fears that Tehran intended to build a nuclear bomb.

Iranian authorities have, however, since made it clear that the programme seeks to harness energy.

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