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Economy - Development | Technology

Nigeria, Iran to share nuclear technology

afrol News, 29 August - Iran has announced its plans to share nuclear technology with Nigeria to help Africa's oil producer boost its electricity output.

Head of the Iranian delegation, Mohammed Ali Zeyghami said it was his country's right to share its nuclear know-how with Nigeria, saying it is crucial to develop clean energy as fossil fuels would disappear.

"Nobody can limit the use of knowledge anywhere in the world," said Mr Zeyghami.

Nigerian Foreign Ministry official Tijanni Kaura said an agreement will only address issue of increased power production saying it should not be misconstrued as an attempt by Africa's most-populous nation to gain a nuclear weapons programme.

"Nigeria is never entering into any agreement with Iran for any matter that has to do with weapons," Mr Kaura said.

He emphasised that there should not be a misunderstanding between explorations or uses of energy to provide power and the uses of energy for weapons, to ensure that Nigeria's relations with Iran will not be undermined by Nigerians including international community.

The agreement was announced after a four-day meeting between Iranian and Nigerian officials in Abuja.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest petroleum producer, but poor infrastructure has resulted in severe power shortages.

President Umaru Yar'Adua has said that improving Nigeria's power supply is one of his main priorities.

Details of the deal were not provided and it was unclear what technology Iran would provide to Nigeria, which currently has no nuclear programme, official reports said.

Nigeria's position as Africa's biggest oil producer has slumped in recent years, after decades of neglect and corruption in the energy sector which has left the country with almost no way to refine crude oil into fuels used to power electricity-generating stations.

However, international analysts have criticised agreement, saying a deal is one of Iran's stunts to expand its nuclear weapons production. Iran has refused to comply with repeated United Nations Security Council demands to halt nuclear enrichment, a process that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons or nuclear energy.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is peaceful and says it has a right to continue uranium enrichment. Iran, also a major oil producer, is due to bring on stream its first nuclear energy station at Bushehr early in 2009.

Lawmakers say about US$10 billion has been spent on Nigeria's power sector since civilians replaced military rulers in 1999, but electricity production has stagnated for nearly a decade.

The United States suspects the country is trying to make weapons, but Iran says its only aim is power production.

Nigeria's 140 million population has a woeful power supply record with only a few hours of state-provided electricity per day.

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