Iranian firms specialising in nuclear technology are prepared to offer Nigeria their expertise to help boost electricity supply in the country, the Iranian ambassador to Nigeria, Saeed Koozechi, said Wednesday.
“We (Iran) are using our nuclear programme to improve the power, health and agriculture sectors in the country,’’ Mr. Koozechi said on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mr. Koozechi lamented the impact of extensive sanctions imposed on Iran by Western countries over the country’s nuclear programme, saying the action was having a crippling effect on Iran’s economy.
The envoy said the sanctions spearheaded by the United States and the European Union was not only affecting Iran’s economy, but also international trade relations and businesses, including trade with Nigeria.
According to the envoy, as a result of the sanctions, banks in Iran and Nigeria could not effectively conduct transactions on SWIFT, a financial-messaging service for most cross- border money transfers.
Iranian businesses, he said, had resorted to companies in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey to bring in their products to Nigeria.
The ambassador, who gave annual trade figures between Nigeria and Iran at $50 million, described the volume of trade as low, considering the size of both economies, which could easily help increase the figure to about $500 million.
With Nigeria as the largest economy in Africa, and the continent’s most populous, he said this could provide Iran a huge opportunity and capacity for economic cooperation.
He condemned the “bad-face” given Iran by the Western media, saying this was another impediment to international trade with foreign nations, including Nigeria.
Mr. Koozechi said accusations that his country’s nuclear programme was about atomic bomb as alleged by the U.S. and its European allies were not true, pointing out that issue was well known as a completely peaceful programme.
“We have had more than 7,000 hour visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to Iranian nuclear sites and they have not found anything that links our nuclear activities to atomic bomb,” he said. “This is a technical issue and it is within the framework of the IAEA, but some of the Western countries try to make it a political issue.”
He said the main aim of the Iranian nuclear issue was to create power (electricity), with one nuclear site in Tehran currently producing about 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, while plans are on to establish 20 other nuclear power plants.
In 2013, the Middle East country produced 10 billion kilowatts of electricity from its nuclear power plant, saving over $1billion and equivalent of about 70 million barrels of crude oil for the country’s economy.