September 25, 2009
DR Congo-Iran Foreign Relations
In July 2006, a United Nations investigation reported that Tanzania had intercepted a shipment of uranium-238, the fissile material necessary for nuclear enrichment, bound for Iran that had originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Lubumbashi mines. DR Congo denied reports that it had shipped any uranium to Iran, however security on the Congolese nuclear plants and uranium mines have continued to cause international concern over nuclear theft.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, which released a statement in July 2008, stating that NAM states “welcomed the continuing cooperation being extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IAEA” and “reaffirmed that states’ choices and decisions, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.”
In November 2008, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for increased trade and economic development cooperation between Iran and Congo in order to build a foundation for greater bilateral relations. More recently, Iran and Congo have offered prospects for broader economic relations. In January 2009, Mottaki invited the Congolese Foreign Minister Basile Ikouebe to Iran and Congo expressed its desire to deepen economic, as well as diplomatic and cultural relations with Iran. In February 2009, Ikouebe arrived in Tehran to sign two memorandums of understanding outlining increased cooperation between the two countries in their economic and political relations.
Iran’s bilateral relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo have primarily stemmed from developing trade and other economic ties, particularly in the energy field. In March 2008, the Congolese Energy Minister Salomon Banamuhere Baliene and Iranian Industry and Mines Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian signed an economic cooperation protocol, agreeing to collaborate in the energy and infrastructure sectors as well as joint investment in the government and private sectors. In February 2009, Ahmadinejad and Mottaki held a meeting with Foreign Minister Ikouebe in which Mottaki said Iran was ready to assist Congo in developing its power plants, mining, oil drilling, and agriculture industry. The two foreign ministers also signed two memorandum of understandings outlining the expansion of their economic and political relations. In September 2009, Chairman of the Iran-Congo Friendship Group Hamid Reza Haji Babaee led an Iranian parliamentarian delegation to Kinshasa to discuss bilateral ties, international developments and strengthening of the two countries’ parliamentary ties. During the week-long trip, Haji Babaee emphasized that Iran’s interest in bilateral ties with the DRC is based on Islamic values as opposed to “western countries and a number of big powers [who] strive to plunder the resources of the African nations and colonize them.”