Zimbabwe today indicated it was open to providing Iran access to uranium ore deposits in support of the Middle Eastern nation's atomic activities, Haaretz reported (see GSN, March 2).
The offer fits with estimates that indigenous sources of raw uranium were insufficient for the Persian Gulf nation's nuclear activities, according to the newspaper (see GSN, Feb. 24). The United States and other countries suspect Iran's nuclear program is geared toward weapons development; Tehran has insisted its atomic ambitions are strictly peaceful.
"Zimbabwe holds rich resources, but the problem we face is lack of budget, finance and required technical equipment to take the very rich resources out and use them," Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told the Iranian Students News Agency.
"Those making claims on Iran's enrichment work hold nuclear weapons and hostile nuclear [programs]," Mumbengegwi said, referring to the United States and European powers. The Western nations have expressed concern that Iran could tap its uranium enrichment program to generate fissile material for nuclear weapons.
"Any country has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy based on international rules," the Zimbabwean foreign minister said.
The use of economic penalties against both Iran and Zimbabwe was "not accidental," he said.
"Western states follow the approach of sanction towards countries which do not yield to their domination and act against their interests," Mumbengegwi said. International punitive measures "should be approved by the U.N. General Assembly since it involves many countries and it should not be allowed that few countries misuse other ones," he said.
The U.N. Security Council has adopted four sanctions resolutions aimed at pressuring Iran to curb its disputed atomic work (Haaretz, March 3).
Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has begun developing a bill aimed at penalizing non-Israeli firms breaching global economic penalties against Iran, Agence France-Presse reported today. Israeli companies do not do business with Iran, but the proposal could affect entities that commerce with both countries.
"It turns out there is a lacuna in Israeli legislation concerning Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "There seems to be a gap between policy and legislation, and this would bring the legislation up to date."
The legislation would "put us in line with international efforts like those adopted by the U.S., the EU and the international resolutions," Palmor said without elaborating further.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman originally floated the measure, Maariv reported.
The newspaper quoted an Israeli expert assessment's finding that the nation "lacks adequate legal tools to promote extensive economic sanctions on Iran and cannot even comply at times with the commitments that stem from the U.N. Security Council resolutions" (Agence France-Presse/Google News, March 3).
Elsewhere, Iran has halted work and opened up its Bushehr nuclear reactor under supervision by Russian specialists, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.
"The move has been conducted based on an agreement between Iranian and Russian experts," Iranian Ambassador to Russia Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said. "Iranian and Russian nuclear experts believe that we should practice safety standards at the power plant more than usual because the power plant has been built on German infrastructure and through a combination of Russian and German technologies."
Iran yesterday indicated it had not withdrawn fuel from the reactor core.
"The nuclear fuel has not been removed from the heart of the plant and routine activities are under way in there," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said (Fars News Agency, March 2).