In terms of nuclear co-operation, should Nigeria deal with Iran or USA?
U.S. Warns Nigeria Over Nuclear Pact With Iran
By Chinedu Offor, Correspondent, Tampa, Florida
Effort by Nigeria to join the elite league of nuclear powered nations may suffer a setback as the United States of America (U.S.A)has warned Abuja not to accept advanced technology from it's mortal enemy Iran. The State Department said Tehran has failed to submit its programme to the jurisdiction of+the International Atomic Agency, a United Nations (UN)regulatory body because it wants to use the technology to develop nuclear weapons.
"Iran is not a friend of the U.S.; any nation doing business with it, especially on the nuclear front could not expect to be friends with us," a U.S. official told our correspondent.
Washington believes Iran intends to develop weapons that could be passed on to terrorist organisations, which could attack the country or it's allies. Washington also wonders if Nigeria has the capacity not only to safeguard nuclear plant, but to store cancer causing radioactive wastes.
"Nigeria does not have the experience and technology to manage these plants. The possibility of accidents and radioactive fallout is high," the official said.
Administration officials also worry that Nigeria could potentially be a source of nuclear weapons to terror groups if it develops the capacity to make nuclear bomb because of its poor security network and porous borders.
An Iranian trade delegation to Nigeria had announced on Thursday an agreement for Iran to share peaceful nuclear technology with Nigeria, to help Africa's biggest oil producer improve its electricity generation capacity.
Governments of both countries said that the agreement involves only the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
The UN Security Council is demanding that Iran halts uranium enrichment until it answers Western suspicions that it is trying to develop atomic weapons. Iran insists its programme is intended only to use nuclear reactors to generate electricity.
But Mohammad Ali Zeyghami, who led the Iranian delegation, said Iran has the right to share its nuclear know-how with Nigeria. He said oil and other fossil fuels will run out one day and it is crucial to develop other energy sources.
"Nobody can limit the use of knowledge anywhere in the world," Zeyghami said.
Details of the deal were not announced, so it was unclear what technology Iran would provide to Nigeria.
Tijanni Kaura, a senior Nigerian Foreign Ministry official, said the agreement deals only with peaceful nuclear technology and shouldn't be seen as an attempt by Africa's most populous nation to start an atomic weapons programme.
"Nigeria is never entering into any agreement with Iran for any matter that has to do with weapons," Kaura stressed.
"There shouldn't be a misunderstanding between exploration or uses of energy to provide power and the uses of energy for weapons , so that our relationship with Iran will not be misconstrued by Nigerians and the entire international community."
Large-scale corruption and poor infrastructure have resulted in woeful electricity generation in Nigeria. President Umaru Yar'Adua has said that improving power supply is one of his main priorities.