Canadian Uranium exports to China

Sierra Rayne
The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is about to begin exporting uranium to China. Normally, the announcement of new trade agreements with international partners is good news. However, with China, life gets more complicated. China is a communist police state with a rapidly increasing military capacity, and it has little respect for international law. Thus, Canadians and their American allies must wonder where these uranium exports to China may end up? Potentially in Iran as part of its rogue nuclear weapons program?

China has a history of 'cooperating' with Iran on its nuclear ambitions, and it has been reported that "Iran has dramatically stepped up covert attempts to buy nuclear equipment over the last six months, often by using Chinese companies as fronts." Other reports indicate that "Iran has nearly depleted the stockpiles of uranium it imported in the 1970s, and its own uranium mines hold only small quantities of lower-grade ore... Western states have now launched a diplomatic push to urge all uranium-exporting countries not to sell to Tehran." Iran has also apparently imported uranium from China in the past, as noted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Iran failed to report that it had purchased natural uranium (1,000 kg of UF6, 400 kg of UF4, and 400 kg of UO2) from China in 1991, and its subsequent transfer for further processing. Iran acknowledged the imports in February 2003."

Canada needs to seriously rethink its commitments towards supplying China with uranium, particularly in light of claims that China may have up to 1,800 nuclear warheads. Canada's first commitment is to the international community and keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons (and also to limit China's nuclear warhead potential). It is difficult to conceive how Canada will be able to effectively monitor the end market of its exported uranium to China, and the possibility -- however low -- of Canadian uranium ending up in Iran is a serious risk that poses a likely fatal flaw to this new Canada-China export agreement.

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is about to begin exporting uranium to China. Normally, the announcement of new trade agreements with international partners is good news. However, with China, life gets more complicated. China is a communist police state with a rapidly increasing military capacity, and it has little respect for international law. Thus, Canadians and their American allies must wonder where these uranium exports to China may end up? Potentially in Iran as part of its rogue nuclear weapons program?

China has a history of 'cooperating' with Iran on its nuclear ambitions, and it has been reported that "Iran has dramatically stepped up covert attempts to buy nuclear equipment over the last six months, often by using Chinese companies as fronts." Other reports indicate that "Iran has nearly depleted the stockpiles of uranium it imported in the 1970s, and its own uranium mines hold only small quantities of lower-grade ore... Western states have now launched a diplomatic push to urge all uranium-exporting countries not to sell to Tehran." Iran has also apparently imported uranium from China in the past, as noted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Iran failed to report that it had purchased natural uranium (1,000 kg of UF6, 400 kg of UF4, and 400 kg of UO2) from China in 1991, and its subsequent transfer for further processing. Iran acknowledged the imports in February 2003."

Canada needs to seriously rethink its commitments towards supplying China with uranium, particularly in light of claims that China may have up to 1,800 nuclear warheads. Canada's first commitment is to the international community and keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons (and also to limit China's nuclear warhead potential). It is difficult to conceive how Canada will be able to effectively monitor the end market of its exported uranium to China, and the possibility -- however low -- of Canadian uranium ending up in Iran is a serious risk that poses a likely fatal flaw to this new Canada-China export agreement.