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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
S Africa denies Iraq nuclear link
Tony Blair and Saddam Hussein
Britain says Iraq wanted African uranium

The South African government says categorically it has not been approached to sell uranium to Iraq.

South Africa's deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad says his government will ask the British Government to clarify "vague statements" made in Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq dossier published this week.

Mr Pahad said his government had not been approached, but would be investigating suggestions that Iraq tried to buy nuclear materials in Africa.

Africa's uranium production in 2001
Niger - 3,096 tonnes
Namibia - 2,239 tonnes
South Africa - 898 tonnes
Source: Uranium Information Centre
The dossier on Iraq's nuclear capability and intentions said that Iraq had tried to obtain "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa.

South Africa is the only country on the continent which has the capacity to enrich uranium.

Gabon, Niger and Namibia have all exported unprocessed uranium oxide.

South Africa produces the mineral, but has a domestic nuclear energy and research programme.

Finger pointed at South Africa

The dossier published by the British Government this week said Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire significant quantities of uranium from Africa, but did not provide any further evidence.

Aziz Pahad said the finger had been pointed at South Africa as the only country on the continent with the capacity to enrich uranium.

He said categorically the government had not supplied uranium to Iraq, nor had it been approached, and he would actively be seeking clarification from Britain on the vague statements made in the dossier.

Mr Pahad cited the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which he said showed the dossier had no substance with regard to nuclear material acquisitions in Africa.

He said that, because of the strict regime in South Africa, it would be very difficult for private companies within the country to be involved in uranium trading.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mark Gwozdecky, International Atomic Energy Agency
"One would have to beat the sanctions regime in order to do something like this"

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24 Sep 02 | Africa
24 Sep 02 | Politics
24 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Panorama
20 Sep 02 | Business
02 Mar 01 | Correspondent
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