18 September 2001

South Africa: No Nuke Sales to Bin Laden - Government

THE Government has rejected claims that South Africa sold enriched nuclear material to militants linked to Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden. The claim was apparently made by Sudanese national Mr Jamal al Fadh, who is on trial in the United States for bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Fadh is said to have alleged that someone working for bin Ladin bought a cylinder of uranium from South Africa some time before 1996.

The Department of Minerals and Energy said yesterday that South Africa possessed some enriched uranium, but that it was kept under tight security.

It said South Africa was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency kept the area where the material was stored under strict surveillance and inspected it regularly.

"We therefore doubt there is any authenticity to Fadh's reported allegations Š enriched uranium was placed under safeguards in 1991, long before the alleged sale which supposedly took place in 1993-94," the department said.

The denial came amid reports that the US government had compiled a list of countries, including some in Africa, that have had dealings with bin Laden, prime suspect in last week's attacks on the US. US president Mr George W Bush has warned these countries they face retaliatory military attacks.

African countries believed to be on the list are Libya, Algeria, Sudan and Liberia.

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