Iran is reportedly interested in importing 800,000 tons of phosphate from Syria, with the intention of extracting uranium from the mined rocks, according to secret documents obtained by Iran International.
According to the report, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) asked the government for permission to obtain the materials in January from areas that Iran controls in Syria, as they concluded that the Syrian phosphate had higher radioactive qualities than what could be produced domestically.
The report stated that Mohammad Eslami, the AEIO chairman wrote to an Iranian presidential deputy asking for permission “in order to supply part of the uranium needed for the country’s nuclear industry, this organization is mulling a project to extract uranium from Syria’s phosphate mines, the exploitation of which is at the disposal of the Islamic Republic.”
Due to international sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran is forbidden from obtaining uranium using traditional means. This may suggest that the regime is experiencing challenges in procuring raw materials, according to the documents.
The report noted that in 2017, Iran and Syria signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in a phosphate mine in Al-Sharqiya.
Syria is one of the largest global exporters of rock phosphate, which is primarily used as an ingredient in commercial fertilizers. Media reports have alleged that much of Syria’s phosphate supply is illicitly sold to manufacturers in Europe, who have been struggling with product shortages due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Wednesday Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a cooperation agreement during an official visit by Raisi to Damascus. The trip by Raisi marks the first visit by an Iranian head of state since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.