How Africa plays into Iran’s nuclear ambitions
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe in Tehran on November 20, 2006. (Getty Images)
January 17th, 2012
12:58 PM ET

How Africa plays into Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Editor's Note: Jason Warner is a Ph.D. student in African Studies and Government at Harvard University.

By Jason Warner - Special to CNN

Though often overlooked, Africa plays a critical role in Iran’s quest to become a nuclear state.

Iran’s first uranium shipment came in the 1970s from a then nuclear South Africa, and as late as 1997 during Nelson Mandela’s administration, South Africa was purportedly in talks to share its enrichment expertise with Iran, an allegation that Pretoria has refuted. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2005 election, however, Iran has viewed Africa as imperative for its nuclear program for three primary purposes: uranium, diplomatic support, and geostrategic protection. FULL POST

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Topics: Africa • Iran
Iran's troubled foray into Africa
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shakes hands with his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe in Tehran on November 20, 2006. (Getty Images)
October 12th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

Iran's troubled foray into Africa

Editor's Note: Jason Warner is a Ph.D. student in African Studies and Government at Harvard University.

By Jason Warner - Special to CNN

The recent accusation that Iran was behind a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States thrust that mercurial nation, home of the Persian leopard, back into the international spotlight. While the Beltway is rallying behind the Obama administration’s commitment to isolate Iran anew, we risk overlooking that country’s growing relationship with Africa.

In a New York speech in 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trumpeted to the world that there were “no limits to the expansion of [Iran’s] ties with African countries.” Since his inauguration in 2005, Iran has actively been pursuing an ambitious agenda of deepening such “limitless” ties with African governments.

Driving Iran’s Africa push is its need to buoy its image in the face of international isolation caused by its nuclear program. Censured by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2006 and 2007, Iran has viewed African states – which, like itself, find great relevance in the rhetoric of Global South solidarity – as in-built allies against a presumed imperial West that seeks to keep rising developing world powers at bay.  For their part, African states such as Eritrea and Comoros, amongst others, have been willing to support Iran’s right to nuclear development for peaceful purposes. Africa also figures into Iran’s nuclear calculus as a source point for uranium, which Iran has been trying to procure from countries such as Niger, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. FULL POST

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Topics: Africa • Iran
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