While on a tour of West Africa and set to include unspecified bilateral deals, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been defending his country’s controversial nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad said Tehran has no use for an atomic bomb.
He was speaking during a visit to Benin on Monday, the first stop on a three-nation West Africa tour. He called nuclear energy a “divine gift” providing affordable electricity.
Western powers suspect Tehran of covertly developing the capacity to produce a nuclear bomb. Iran denies this and says its nuclear program is for energy and medical purposes.
Last week, Iran unveiled a new uranium production facility and two mines, only days after talks with world powers on its nuclear program again ended in deadlock.
Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Benin on Sunday night in his capacity as chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, left later Monday to travel to neighboring Niger, one of the world’s top producers of uranium.
Talks on energy, agriculture, education
Iran needs uranium for its nuclear program, and Niger has recently criticized a long-standing agreement with France, which gets most of its uranium from the former colony, demanding a bigger share of the profits from uranium ore mining.
In Niger, the Iranian president’s visit was being welcomed by those who said the impoverished nation should search for new partners for its uranium sales.
“We must, from now on, adhere to policies in our own interests, in selling our uranium to who we want, including Iran,” Nouhou Arzika, a prominent civil society activist in Niger, told AFP.
Uranium from landlocked Niger is trucked to Benin ports for export, but Benin’s foreign minister, Nassirou Araifari Bako, has insisted that uranium talks were not on the agenda for the Benin visit.
Read more: dw.de