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Niger government deals severe blow to French mining interest

Niamey, Jun 21 (Prensa Latina) The Nigerian provisional government dealt a severe blow to French strategic interests with the withdrawal of the uranium exploitation permit from the Orano company.

Some 15 percent of the uranium France allocates for military use and to fuel its electronuclear plants comes from Niger’s deposits, according to publicly available statistics.

The magnitude of the blow can be measured by the reaction of the company, of which the French state is the majority shareholder: one of the spokespersons declared that “(the company) reserves the right to challenge the decision to withdraw the mining exploitation permit before national jurisdictions or international…”

The decision by Niger’s military junta has a strong political impact given recent efforts to drive a wedge between African countries and Russia, including a diplomatic offensive by France, other former colonial metropolis and the United States.

Weeks ago, the Bloomberg magazine asserted, without identifying its sources, that Russia is interested in exploiting Nigerian deposits.

In addition to its economic relevance, Nigerian uranium has international political importance for France as evidenced by the fact that part of the fissile material used by Israel in the construction of its atomic bombs was provided by France.

The Israeli government does not recognize the possession of atomic weapons, but it has been proven by independent investigations that the IDF uses depleted uranium in its attacks against civilian areas in southern Lebanon.