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Iran to share nuclear know-how

It signs an agreement with Nigeria to give the African nation technology to help it generate electricity.

August 29, 2008|From the Associated Press

ABUJA, NIGERIA — An Iranian trade delegation announced an agreement Thursday for Iran to share peaceful nuclear technology with Nigeria to help bolster its woeful capacity to generate electricity.

Officials of both countries emphasized that the agreement involved only peaceful uses of atomic energy.

Iran is under sanctions for refusing to comply with U.N. Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment until it allays Western suspicions that its nuclear program is intended to develop atomic weapons. Iran insists its program is only to generate electricity.

Iran, with Russian help, is finishing construction of its first nuclear power station, a 1,000-megawatt reactor in the southern city of Bushehr scheduled to begin operation early next year. The Tehran government has said it plans to build six more nuclear plants by 2021.

Mohammed Ali Zeyghami, a commerce official heading the Iranian delegation, said his country had the right to share its nuclear know-how with Nigeria. He said oil and other fossil fuels would run out one day and it was 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, which has not had a nuclear energy program.

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 program.

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

Nigeria is Africa's biggest petroleum producer, but decades of neglect and corruption in the energy sector have left the country with almost no way to refine crude oil into fuels used to power electricity-generating stations.

Most of the country's 140 million people get only a few hours of state-provided electricity a day, and businesses must rely on costly diesel generators to power their plants.

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