Colonial France out for Niger’s Uranium*
By Luis Miranda
As Western-sponsored wars ravage parts of Northern Africa, Paris will send troops to another country to secure its supply of raw material to produce energy.
France has ordered his special forces to protect the uranium at the nuclear facilities in Areva, Niger due to the French government are threats of attacks against its interests since France invaded Mali.
Areva is the largest foreign investor in Niger, and has had uranium mining operations in Niger for more than five decades. These mines provide much of the raw material that the nuclear power industry uses in France. Nuclear power accounts for 75% of electricity production in the European nation.
A military source confirmed the information that was first published by ‘Le Point’, which claimed that Paris had dispatched special forces and production material to uranium sites in Areva and Arlit Imouraren, but did not want to elaborate. The Defense Ministry has not commented on the information, and Areva has merely stated that it has held talks about security issues.
Ironically, the uranium mines in Niger are the symbolic place where many people believe began the West’s war against Al Qaeda about a decade ago. Bush administration officials, eager to go to war against Iraq, asked their intelligence services and those of its allies for any information linking Al-Qaeda in Iraq and to indicate that Baghdad sought to acquire nuclear weapons. That was later presented as a reason to attack Iraq, even though it was backed by false intelligence.
The then Secretary of State, Colin Powell, finished presenting a false report, which included photographs taken in Niger, to prepare the ‘casus belli’ in the UN, attributing it to foreign intelligence services, and Bush later attributed such information to Britain.
Two years ago, in September 2011, seven workers, including five French nationals, were kidnapped in Arlit by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Later the kidnappers released three of the hostages, but still held four Frenchmen. Areva has about 2,700 workers in Niger and plans to start operating a third mine in Imouraren this year or in 2014.
A company spokesman said this month that the French Government had not asked them to reduce staff in Niger and said that Areva had a comprehensive security plan for its employees that it had been approved by the French authorities.
From January 11, at the request of the Government of Mali and the green light of the Security Council of the UN and the international community, Paris launched airstrikes and sent about 3,200 soldiers to Mali – which borders with Niger – to prevent the advance of the rebel Tuareg.
Insurgents have threatened to retaliate by hitting French targets in the region of Sahel and beyond, and a few days after the start of operation Serval attacked a gas plant in Amenas, southeast of Algeria, taking hundreds of hostages. The hijacking ended with an attack carried out by the Algerian army that resulted in the death of thirty workers and as many jihadists.
A convoy carrying two hundred soldiers from Chad to Mali arrived Thursday in Niamey, capital of Niger. Djamena has decided to send 2,000 troops to the conflict zone at the request of Paris. Those troops will help the forces of the International Support Mission sent to Mali that was organized by CEDEAO, but taht is not under its control.
According to France Presse, there are currently 600 soldiers and 500 Chadians and Nigerians in Ouallam, northern Niger, near the border with Mali. These two battalions will be deployed in the region of Gao, northern territory of Mali to help French troops and the government to take on Islamist strongholds where they’ve been for at least a year.