Zimbabwe denies secret uranium deal
12 August 2013, 10:27
Harare - Zimbabwe on Saturday denied a British newspaper report that it had signed a secret uranium trade deal with Iran.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said: "We are free to trade with any country but my ministry has not signed an agreement about uranium with Tehran."
Mpofu added: "It is fiction and usual wishful thinking of the Western media. Why would we have a secret deal when we are a free country."
The Times of London newspaper had quoted the deputy mining minister, Gift Chimanikire, as saying: "I have seen (a memorandum of understanding) to export uranium to the Iranians."
Mpofu is a member of President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, while Chimanikire is from the rival Movement for Democratic Change.
The Times quoted analysts as saying that Zimbabwe is still a long way from being able to export uranium.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Harare in 2010 and received support from Mugabe for Tehran's right to a nuclear programme.
Iran's new president, Hassan Rowhani, last week said his country was ready to allay all Western concerns about its nuclear programme and that the dispute over it could be solved quickly.
Several rounds of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - plus Germany have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.
The West wants Iran to stop enriching uranium at 20 per cent, which can be easily further enriched to weapons-grade level.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its programme is peaceful.