THE United States has warned Zimbabwe there would be serious ramifications if it cooperates with Iran’s nuclear programme in violation of United Nations resolutions.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington was concerned over recent statements by Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi that United Nations sanctions on Iran were unfair and hypocritical.
"We are concerned by statements that would suggest that Zimbabwe would be open to cooperating with Iran in ways that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions," he told reporters.
"The foreign minister of Zimbabwe is entitled to his opinion but the government of Zimbabwe is still bound by its commitments to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," Crowley said.
"There are ramifications for countries that decline to observe their international obligations.”
Mumbengegwi told Iranian news agency ISNA on Thursday last week that Zimbabwe was willing to work with Iran on extracting uranium resources meant for Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.
“Zimbabwe holds rich resources, but the problem we face is lack of budget, finance and required technical equipment to take the very rich resources out and use them,” ISNA reported Mumbengegwi as saying.
It has been known for many years that uranium deposits lie in the Zambezi River valley but were not exploited due to low uranium prices. It is estimated that the country’s Kanyemba Mine holds more than 45,000 tons of uranium ore with over 20,000 tons extractible.
Mumbengegwi also criticised attempts by Western countries to sanction Iran over its nuclear programme, saying "those making claims on Iran's enrichment work hold nuclear weapons and hostile nuclear programme."
"Any country has the right to use peaceful nuclear energy based on international rules," he added.