A Makerere University international law professor, Dr. Phillip Kasaija has poured cold water on suggestions by President Yoweri Museveni that he is playing a vital role in mediating the stand off over nuclear development in Iran.
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Uganda last week and held a series of talks with President Museveni. The key issue on the table was Iran's insistence on development of its uranium deposits, allegedly to produce nuclear energy.
In a statement made at the conclusion of the visit, President Museveni said it is the right of all countries in the world to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. He however said his government's position is that nuclear weapons are dangerous for humanity and possession of nuclear weapons by some countries is the greatest cause for the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Kasaija notes that President Ahmadinejad played hardball for several years over the issue of the development of his country's development of its uranium deposits to make nuclear power. He says he doesn't see how a small country like Uganda can succeed where the European Union, the United States and Britain have failed in calling for more openness about Iran's nuclear program.
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Kasaija is of the opinion that Iran stood to gain more from President Ahmadinejad's visit to Uganda than Uganda itself. He says that Iran is looking for friends and legitimacy in the midst of the nuclear controversy and the violent suppression of opposition political supporters in its elections last year.
The International Affairs State Minister, Okello Oryem, rubbishes this argument. He says Kasaija's arguments are based on ignorance of international diplomacy.
Oryem says that as a current member of the United Nations Security Council, Uganda is in a position to influence debate on the Iran nuclear issue. He says President Museveni has already briefed the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China on the details of his discussion with President Ahmadinejad.
Oryem says President Museveni is an influential member of the international community, pointing to his mediation Burundi and intervention in Somalia.
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From May 3rd, 90 nations, including Uganda, will meet in New York for a month long conference to review on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In a statement released today, the United States Chief of Mission in Uganda, John Hoover, says the world is at a crucial point in time and must ensure that all parties to the Treaty step up to their obligations. He says the growing availability of sensitive technology increases the possibility of access to weapons of mass destruction by state and non-state actors, alike.
In a hooded reference to Iran, Hoover says the significant failure of some states to comply with their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations undermines regional and global security. He calls on Uganda and the other nations of the world to join the U.S. in revitalizing the global nonproliferation regime.