Forgotten Facts : Nigeria’s Ballistic Missile Program. Part II.

The Nigerian government re-affirms emphatically it is not seeking nuclear weapons, neither does it have the technical expertise and necessary infrastructure to develop a nuclear weapons program.

Then in 2006, the Nigerian government approves a technical framework for its nuclear energy program, along with a strategic implementation plan. 

A Nigerian Regulatory Authority (NNRA) is set up for regulatory oversight on all used of ionizing radiation, nuclear materials and radioactive sources under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.

Then in March Russia signed a cooperation agreement with Nigeria, including the provision for uranium exploration and mining in Nigeria. A further broad agreement envisaged the construction of a Russian power reactor and a new research reactor.

Nigeria’s first and only research reactor finally came live on stream. Officially commissioned at the Ahmadu Bello University in 2004, it took two years for the facility to become operational. The reactor is a 30 kW Chinese Miniature Neutron Source Reactor. It uses high-enriched uranium fuel.

These developments in quick succesion fuelled paranoia amongst Francophone West Africa who fear Nigeria is developing WMD capabilities.

France, Chad and Mali signed a new defence pact. An agreement that will let Paris maintain its prominent role in its former colonies. This new pact, a defence cooperation treaty that replaces an old agreement outlines the framework for French intelligence sharing, training and equipping of Chadian troops and French.

France also begins the process of reorganizing its presence in the region with troops from Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso folded into a proposed 6,000 strong military force.

Nigeria’s response came two years later..l

July 2008

In a move that rattled the international community, Nigeria announces the possibility of acquiring ballistic missile technology from Pyongyang.

Now, the United States had previously warned Africa’s most populous country to steer clear of the pursuit of nuclear weapons technology. But this time around the U.S took a much measured tone. 

The U.S State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S wanted to “stop North Korea’s missile activities” and would welcome a decision by Nigeria to turn down Pyongyang’s offer. He also warned Nigeria to steer clear of military collaborations with the reclusive Stalinist state.
The office of the Presidency issued a statement via its spokesman Omukaba Ojo issued a statement : 

our relationship with each country is determined by what we believe is our national interest. The fact that North Korea has been demonized does not mean that Nigeria should avoid North Korea. 

Ojo said military relations with Pyongyang could include training and the manufacture of ammunition. 

But what raised eyebrows was claims that Abuja wants North Korean help to strengthen its defense, specifically in the area of missile technology. Due to the strategic proximity, all military bases in virtually all of West Africa will be within range of a missile attack launched from Nigeria. What’s frightening is the fact that it need not be long range or supersonic.  

A missile attack from launch sites in northern Nigeria traveling at 800km/h will take roughly between 8-10 minutes to impact. If supersonic, time from launch to impact will take as little as 4/5 minutes. Without prior warning or Knowledge of an impending strike, it will be virtually impossible to defend against a Nigerian missile attack.

The Bush administration which saw Nigeria as its most strategic ally of the United States initially was less inclined to take an irrational knee jerk reaction. President Olusegun Obasanjo was one of the first country in the world to call President Bush and proffer condolence after the September 11 terrorist attack that brought down the world trade centre. 

The first satellite imagery of Hurricane Katrina was taken by a Nigerian sattelite and released to FEMA free of charge. Also Nigeria was the 4th most important source of crude for the United States, as as the Middle East descends into chaos, Nigeria as an alternative source of crude was crucial.

Paris on the other hand went on a diplomatic campaigne against the Nigerian government. The French government said any efforts by an African country to a quite ballistic missiles. Nigeria was “not responsible enough” to be entrusted with such weapons, Paris insisted.

Paris questioned the rationale for Nigeria”s pursuit of ballistic missile technology. Conflicts in Africa are prevalent, wars on the continent are characterized by the use of light weapons, particularly machine guns, and in rare cases shoulder launched missiles have been used. 

Finally the U.S State Department issues a verbal warning. If Nigeria decided to goes ahead with the deal, the U.S may consider seizing the material while in transit or could impise punitive sanctions on Nigeria they said.

Nigeria’s army is considered one of the best equipped equipped and trained in Africa, and although struggling with ethnic and religious unrest, it does not face any major external military threat to justify the pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology.

In  August Pakistan offered to share military assistance, including “nuclear power” with Nigeria, in defiance of U.S President George Bush’s new Counter Proliferation

The offer was announced by the Nigerian defence ministry in a statement saying that General Muhammad Aziz Khan, chairman of Pakistan’s joint chiefs of staff, had made the offer to the Nigerian defence minister, Rabiu Kwankwaso, during a visit to the west African state’s capital, Abuja.

“Speaking at the opening of the discussions, the Pakistani chairman of joint chiefs of staff … said that his country is working out the dynamics of how they can assist Nigeria’s armed forces to strengthen its military capability and to acquire nuclear power,” the Nigerian press release said. Neither the Pakistani nor the Nigerian governments clarified what Gen Khan had in mind.

The announcement was certainly going to provoke consternation in Paris and Washington, coming just a month after the mastermind behind Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted publicly that he had run a black market in nuclear weapons materials.

Gen Khan’s offer to Nigeria appeared to be in blatant defiance of that initiative.

The general made clear that the snub was intentional, declaring: “Pakistan had to take its destiny into its own hands to become a nuclear state because of the regular threats posed by hostile neighbours with special reference to the Kashmir conflict,” according to the press release.

The general made clear that the snub was intentional, declaring: “Pakistan had to take its destiny into its own hands to become a nuclear state because of the regular threats posed by hostile neighbours with special reference to the Kashmir conflict,” according to the press release.

US officials are also baffled at Nigeria’s intentions, nearly five years after the country restored civilian rule, and at a time when it is under no threat from its neighbours.

France ramped up its diplomatic efforts to alienate the Nigerian state. 

If the Nigerians go through with this purchase, they will have earned the unenviable distinction as the first sub-Saharan African state to introduce ballistic missile technology to the region. They will become the initiator of a supremely wasteful and potentially deadly arms race,” Paris said.

The U.S in its part Nigetia -U.S relationships would be severely damaged, and a substantial amount of U.S military and economic aid given to Nigeria will be placed in jeopardy.

In 2009 the decision was made by the United States and France to break up the Nigerian state via economic, political, military and clandestine process. 

North Korean ballistic missile know-how in Nigerian hands would cause a major shift in the balance of powe in Africa and compromise Western interest in the region.

…..and so the mechanisms was put the place.  The CIA, French Intelligence services and their proxies were tasked to break up the Nigerian state on or before 2015.

What happened next will have far reaching consequences in Africa that is still being felt to this day.

End of Part II. (What out for the concluding part in these series…..


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