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"Iran did not buy uranium from Namibia," govt

Misanet / The Namibian, 1 February - The government of Namibia says it was no secret that Iran has shares in Rössing Uranium Limited, a Namibian company. Windhoek however denies that Tehran purchased Namibian uranium. The United States accuses Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

- They have shares, said the Namibia government's Director of Mines, Asser Mudhika. "That is not a secret, just like the Namibian government is also a minority shareholder in Rössing," added Mr Mudhika.

He denied that any local uranium had been exported to Iran. "That we can stand for. We are working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and they know the end destination of our uranium," Mr Mudhika said.

Reuters news agency reported over the weekend that the government of Iran has held a 15 percent shareholding in Rössing Uranium Limited since 1975. It quoted Graham Davidson, the General Manager for operations at Rössing, as stating that the company's board of directors only permits the sale of uranium for use in generating electricity.

Mr Davidson said there were no contracts with Iran for the sale of milled uranium oxide, better known as "yellowcake." The company did not respond to a question whether Iran had purchased any Rössing uranium in the past, while the spokesman for IAEA declined to comment.

Mr Mudhika, who represents the Namibian government on the Rössing board, said the Ministry of Mines monitors how uranium is exported from Namibia and follows it through to its final destination.

Rössing Uranium Limited, which is majority owned by Anglo-Australian firm Rio Tinto, sells its uranium to nuclear power plants in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Sweden. Mr Davidson told Reuters last week that representatives of the government of Iran routinely attend Rössing board meetings.

US officials said they were not aware of Iran's stake in Rössing and a senior Iranian official in Tehran declined to comment when approached by Reuters. An official at the US State Department said it did not appear illegal for US power companies to buy uranium from a company partly owned by Iran.

Rössing forwarded its response to the Reuters queries to the Ministry of Mines and Energy on Saturday afternoon. Mr Davidson said the use of the mine's material is closely monitored by the IAEA.

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