Flag of Eritrea (Available at Wikimedia Commons)   Nuclear: Eritrea has publicly supported Iran’s nuclear program on several occasions

January 17, 2009

Eritrea-Iran Foreign Relations

Flag of Eritrea (Available at Wikimedia Commons)
 
Nuclear:

Eritrea has publicly supported Iran’s nuclear program on several occasions.  In June 2007, Eritrean President Isais Afwerki said that nuclear energy is Iran’s legal right.[1]  In an address to a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in November 2007, Eritrea supported Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh claimed his government’s “support of the legal rights of all nations, developed or developing, to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”[2] In a May 2009 interview, President Afwerki criticized Western interference in Iran’s nuclear program “[i]f there are nuclear dangers and problems why they cannot be solved [sic] within the region, among the countries which feel the danger and the concerned party, if Iran has such intentions?”[3] Following Iran’s warm reception for Eritrea’s new ambassador to Tehran in June 2009, President Afwerki stated his support of Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “Iran’s nuclear program is a source of pride for us and we support the country’s stand in this regard.”[4]President Afwerki went on to say that the International Atomic Energy Agency and Western nations do not have the authority to interfere with Iran’s nuclear development.[5]

[Click here for more information on the Non-Aligned Movement.]

 

Economic Relationship:

Eritrea and Iran have agreed to increase their economic, political and diplomatic cooperation. According to Eritrean president Isais Afwerki in July 2008, Eritrea is looking for “alternative trade partners” after the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998-2000) that strained Eritrean relations with the West.[6] To this end, Eritrea signed trade and investment agreements with Iran in May 2008 and secured Iranian willingness to support energy and infrastructure development projects.[7] The Eritrean government granted Iran exclusive control over the Eritrean Oil Refinery in December 2008 in exchange for Iranian upgrades to the facility.[8] In April 2009, Iran, Algeria, and Eritrea agreed to expand their bilateral cooperation and encourage mutual investment.[9]

 

Diplomatic/Military Relationship:

Iran and Eritrea have agreed to increase their bilateral political relations. In May 2008, President Afwerki met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Tehran to bolster cooperation between the two states.[10]  The two agreed to cooperate in industry, agricultural, and regional and international issues.[11]  In October 2008, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to boost cultural, scientific, and education cooperation.[12] In a May 2009 interview, President Afwerki said that Iranian-Eritrean relations “are relatively new” but “constructive.” Afwerki also denied rumors that Eritrea is hosting Iranian military bases or aiding Iranian arms smuggling to Palestinians, though at the time Iran reportedly had military forces in the Eritrean coastal city, Assab.[13] Additional allegations surfaced in November 2009 regarding Iran’s use of Eritrean territory to transfer arms to Houthi factions in Yemen. Basher Esheq, an Eritrean Democratic Alliance official, stated that Iranian weapon shipments are delivered to Eritrean coastal towns en route to the Houthi rebels, a report that Iran denies.[14] 

 


[1]“Eritrean President: Nuclear Energy, Iran’s Undeniable Right,” Islamic Republic News Agency, June 6, 2009
[2]Saleh, Osman, Statement by the Eritrean Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 15th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, August 1, 2008.
[3]“Eritrean President Says Iran Has No Military Bases in His Country,” Al-Alam Television, May 8, 2009
[4]“Eritrea Supports Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Afrol News,  June 6, 2009 http://www.afrol.com/articles/25668, November 19, 2009.
[5]“Eritrea Supports Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Afrol News,  June 6, 2009,      http://www.afrol.com/articles/25668, November 19, 2009.
[6]“Eritrea Seeking To Boost Trade Ties With Iran,” Fars News Agency, July 31, 2008.
[7]“Eritrea, Iran Sign Trade, Investment Agreements,” Eritrean Ministry of Information, May 21, 2008; “Iran, Eritrea Call For Expansion Of Economic Ties,” IRNA, May 20, 2008.
[8]“Iran Regime Deploys Troops, Ballistic Missiles to Eritrea,” Iran Press News, December 9, 2008, http://www.iranpressnews.com/english/source/050873.html , November 19, 2009.
[9]“Iran, Eritrea, Algeria To Boost Investment,” Islamic Republic News Agency, April 7, 2009
[10]“Ahmadinejad: No Limits To Iran-Eritrean Ties,” Press TV, May 20, 2009, http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=56498&sectionid=351020101 (May 4, 2009)
[11]“Ahmadinejad: No Limits To Iran-Eritrean Ties,” Press TV, May 20, 2009, http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=56498&sectionid=351020101 (May 4, 2009)
[12]“Iran, Eritrea Ink MoU To Boost Mutual Cooperation,” Fars News Agency, October 6, 2008
[13]“Iran Regime Deploys Troops, Ballistic Missiles to Eritrea,” Iran Press News, December 9, 2008, http://www.iranpressnews.com/english/source/050873.html , November 19, 2009; Eritrean President Says Iran Has No Military Bases in His Country,” Al-Alam Television, May 8, 2009
[14]“Houthis Receive Arms from Iran Via Eritrea,” Yemen Post, November 9, 2009, http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=1548, November 19, 2009.
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