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The uranium producer broke with the U.S. and called for a troop withdrawal

The uranium producer broke with the U.S. and called for a troop withdrawal

A spokesman for the National Council for the Defense of the Fatherland, which governs Niger, announced this Saturday, the 16th, that it would sever military ties with the United States and ask Washington to abandon the base it occupies near Agadez, which is said to be fighting terrorism. in the Sahel.

The U.S. maintains about 1,100 soldiers and personnel at the base, according to the Department of Defense.

In July 2023, in the fifth military coup since independence from France, General Abdurahmane Dziyani seized power as head of a junta in Niger's capital, Niamey.

The U.S. began moving its personnel from its base at the capital's airport to a remote facility in the Agadez region, 900 kilometers away.

From its base in Agadez, Niger, the US can strike with drones across central Africa.

In December last year, France withdrew around 1,500 soldiers from the country following the new government's decision.

The US, however, attempted a diplomatic solution, sending a delegation to negotiate the stay of its troops.

Point for Russia

Today's decision favors Russia, which signed an economic and military cooperation agreement with the new government in January this year.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in Africa, although it has important uranium reserves.

According to the Nuclear Energy Association (WNA), the country is the seventh largest producer in the world.

Despite supplying 5% of the uranium consumed on the planet, Niger will be the largest supplier to the EU in 2021, with 1905 tonnes or 24% of the total — figures from the Euratom Supply Agency.

Uranium is the country's second largest resource after gold.

France, which generates 70% of its electricity from nuclear power plants, relied on Niger for 20% of its uranium supply.

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Since the coup, the new government has raised uranium prices to levels more in line with those in Canada: from 0.80 euros per kilogram to 200 euros per kilogram — according to Rafael Barrans, a researcher at the Institute for Foreign Policy Research.

In September last year, the French group that controls a major uranium mine in Orano, Niger, stopped processing the mineral in the country due to sanctions imposed by France against the military regime.

Ousted president Mohamed Bassoum, who was ousted by the military, became Niger's first Arab president in 2022, winning a runoff election with 55% of the vote. He was one of the founders of the Niger Party for Democracy and Socialism.

If arrested, he could be tried for sedition.

Even from prison, he published an article in the Washington Post on how Russian mercenaries Wagner is changing the face of the Sahel, the region beneath the Sahara desert that runs from Mauritania to Somalia:

The entire central Sahel region could come under Russian influence through the Wagner Group, which is on full display of brutal terrorism in Ukraine.

The coup was condemned by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which brought together former French colonies.

ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the new government, but later backed off.

Niger, Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso were suspended from ECOWAS due to the coup.

Niger, Mali and Burkina have withdrawn from the bloc, saying they are controlled by the West and impose unfair sanctions.

In July last year, after a summit with African leaders in Russia, Vladimir Putin pledged to cancel loans and provide food aid as a way to fight “neocolonialism”.

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Currently, the leaders of Mali and the Central African Republic thanked Putin for the military support of the Wagner group.