Leaks show poor African uranium security

Dec. 27, 2010 at 5:56 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal abysmal safety and security standards in the African uranium mining industry, analysts say.

Cables reveal U.S. diplomats in a number of African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Niger, Burundi and others, reported the poor safety and security standards in those countries' uranium and nuclear facilities, Inter Press Service reported Sunday.

The cables also reveal the alleged involvement of European, Chinese, Indian and South Korean companies in the illegal extraction and smuggling of uranium from Africa.

Uranium imported from African countries is used by most European reactors.

At CREN-K, a nuclear research center in the DRC, "external and internal security is poor, leaving the facility vulnerable to theft," Roger A. Meece, U.S. ambassador to DRC, reported in a 2006 cable.

"Once inside the facility, no one controls the entrance to the nuclear reactor, although a key is required to enter the room," Meece wrote.

"The fuel rod storage room, where the nine unused fuel rods are stored, was not locked, and the fuel rods are not kept in a separate locked container," he reported.

The cable said that high levels of radioactivity have been measured in numerous regions of the DRC.

"All of Katanga Province could be said to be somewhat radioactive," Meece reported.

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