Tuesday, March 28, 2006

North Korea, the Congo, and Uranium

Where does a puny country like North Korea get uranium? From the Congo , via Lebanese smugglers of course.

Strategy Page
reports;

March 28, 2006: Since the late 1990s, there have been rumors of North
Korea operating a uranium mining operation in the Congo. Attempts to
find out exactly what it happening have been unsuccessful. The main
problem is that there is no government in the southern Congo, or at least not
much government. Those government officials that do exist, are mostly
interested in bribes and kickbacks. Same with the few police and
soldiers to be found. As a result, there are outlaw operations everywhere.
Bribes and gunmen have allowed outlaw mining and smuggling operations to
extract thousands of tons of valuable materials. Cobalt ore is currently
going for over $50,000 a ton, if you can get it out of the country
without paying any taxes. UN peacekeepers can't touch these operations, as
they are an "internal matter."

What is known is that the North Koreans have been in the Congo for over
thirty years, mainly to provide technical assistance, and military
training for former dictator Mobutu. The North Korean troops were soon
joined by technical experts and traders, who eventually replaced the
troops. Many believed that all this was just another effort by North Korea to
raise hard currency any way it could. The CIA was able to keep an eye
on the North Koreans, at least until the Congo sank into chaos and civil
war in the late 1990s.

Which brings us to the Shinkolobwe mines, that produce very high grade
uranium. In fact, America's first nuclear weapons used uranium from
Shinkolobwe. But these mines were closed in 1960 (having been open since
1915). Then, in 1999, North Korean mining engineers showed up in the
Congo, and stories spread that uranium mining was resuming at Shinkolobwe.
If the North Koreans were there to help pull more uranium out of
Shinkolobwe, it wasn't so that North Korea could build atomic bombs. North
Korea had its own uranium mines. But the outlaw mining in Congo was very
lucrative, and the North Koreans favored these shady operations. The
area around the former Shinkolobwe uranium mines were already being
worked by thousands of freelance miners. Whatever they pulled out of the
ground, was sold to illegal brokers (usually Lebanese), and then smuggled
out of the country. Local warlords took a cut, and provided security
(from other gangsters, as well as the media, and any kind of law
enforcement.)

There isn't a large black market for uranium, especially the unrefined
ore. Counter-terrorist agencies from many nations are always on the
lookout for any uranium trafficking. But there are Middle Eastern
customers for uranium. Iranian merchants and government officials have been
seen in Congo for over a decade. And the Middle Eastern connections of
many of the ore brokers in the Congo gives counter-terrorist experts the
willies.

If anyone really knows what's going on with the outlaw mining
operations in the Congo, they aren't talking. Probably to protect their sources,
and maintain some flow of information from the original "Heart of
Darkness."

I hate to say it, but I fear it's only a matter of time before a terrorist uses a nuke. This is just the latest example of new danger facing us.

Also, read what Saudi Arabia is doing at
Little Green Footballs

6 Comments:

Blogger Always On Watch said...

I hate to say it, but I fear it's only a matter of time before a terrorist uses a nuke.

While my focus is Islamic terrorists, I also believe the North Korea is a grave danger. "Dear Ruler" is a megalomaniac.

I can't think of anything more dangerous than a megalomaniac with nukes--except for possibly a jihadist, a specialized from of megalomaniac.

March 29, 2006  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Unfortunately I agree that sooner or later(hopefully not in the United States) terrorist will detonate a nuclear bomb. For peaceful nuclear power, it is actually cheaper to use uranium ore then to use weapons grade uranium.

March 29, 2006  
Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Great research Kev..I linked to this post!

March 29, 2006  
Blogger Iran Watch said...

George Bush was right on target when he included North Korea in the axis of evil. It's too bad the rest of the world wants to turn a blind eye on what's going on a North Korea. His people are starving while he builds his military forces. Communist heaven.

March 29, 2006  
Blogger Brooke said...

We've got to keep our eyes on both of them. It seems that Iran could secretly give a nuke to a terrorist...

They'd have a nuclear war without actually having to throw down with us.

March 30, 2006  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Iran and North Korea. These two countries are willing to do most anything to destabilize the Mideast, Southeast Asia and any other area that they feel they can exploit.

March 30, 2006  

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