Concerns: Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, seen here shaking hands with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2006, is believed to have signed a secret deal to supply uranium to Tehran. (Daily Mail)

August 10, 2017

Zimbabwe has signed a secret deal to supply Uranium to Iran for its controversial nuclear programme, according to a senior Government source in Harare.

Negotiations between the two countries, which would see thousands of tonnes of the raw uranium shipped to Tehran for enrichment, have allegedly been going on for two years, the Times reports.

Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mining Minister Gift Chimanikire, said a ‘memorandum of understanding’ had been signed between the two countries both currently subject to stringent international sanctions.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is solely for providing its domestic energy needs, however it is widely believed they are hoping to build a nuclear weapon.

Mr Chimanikire described mining as ‘Zimbabwe’s ticket’ and said only a small number of government officials were aware of the deal which would mean the African country receiving billions in desperately needed currency.

Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility, just outside the city of Isfahan

Enrichment plant: Iran’s Uranium Conversion Facility, just outside the city of Isfahan

He said a Chinese company had been carrying out tests at a site in the far north of Zimbabwe. He told the Times: ‘I have seen a [memorandum of understanding] to export uranium to the Iranians.’

Zimbabwe is believed to have uranium reserves of around 45,000 tonnes. However much of it is mixed in with other minerals meaning it would take years to extract and at considerable expense.

The Chinese are also believed to have approached Zimbabwe offering finance and construction projects in return for mining rights.

Although Iran has its own uranium deposits they are not as pure as those found in other parts of the world.

Experts believe the Islamic state has already stockpiled 182kg of enriched uranium, but would require around 250kg to build a nuclear bomb.

Following his inauguration in June, Iran’s new president Hasan Rouhani Iran’s promised to follow a ‘path of moderation’ and bring more openness over the country’s nuclear programme.

But he stopped short of saying they would consider halting the uranium enrichment programme and accused the United States of seeking any excuse to confront the country over its nuclear ambitions.

They insist the programme is peaceful and geared soley towards generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.

Mr Rouhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met with President Mugabe in 2010, when the African leader described the Iranian’s nuclear ambitions as a ‘just cause’.

Before stepping down in June Mr Ahmadinejad, took a foreign trip to Niger, the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer.

Precious: Iranian technicians huddle around a container of 'yellow cake' uranium in 2005

Precious cargo: Iranian technicians huddle around a container of ‘yellow cake’ uranium in 2005

British security officials said they were aware that Iran was negotiating with Zimbabwe. A foreign office spokesman said: ‘Any reports of uranium being supplied to Iran are concerning.’

Iran has six uranium enrichment plants and are also understood to have activated a heavy-water production plant to produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

But satellite images showed clouds of steam emerging from the site, which is 150 miles south-west of the capital Tehran.