Greenland report paves way for sovereign uranium mining

A new report commissioned by the Greenland government has concluded that the country has full sovereignty over commodities trading, including for uranium, which is regulated by international treaties on non-nuclear proliferation.

The report was kept confidential for more than six months but recently  published as Greenland’s parliament prepares to vote on 24 October on whether to allow the extraction of radioactive substances in Greenland.

The outcome of the vote is expected to be a clear ‘yes’.

For 25 years, Greenland has had a zero-tolerance policy on radioactive substances and government sources have told the Danish newspaper Politiken that Denmark and Greenland were on a collision course over uranium extraction.

Uranium is a toxic and radioactive metal which can affect a person’s kidney, brain, liver and heart after exposure. But it is also a strategically important metal for the nuclear power and defense industries. Large-scale exploitation of the mineral could change Denmark’s and Greenland’s standing on the international stage.

“The Kingdom of Denmark would not have a legal interest in trying to prevent extraction, export and sale of uranium for peaceful purposes including energy purposes. According to our assessment, the Greenlandic government can enter these kinds of deals without consulting the Danish government,” the report says, implying that Denmark should be informed of all trade deals involving uranium.

Secret committee

Nils Wang, the Chief of the Royal Danish Defense College, said that the report showed that Nuuk and Copenhagen were on a collision course.

“The new Greenlandic government has the view that Greenland has full control over its minerals, including uranium. This is not a view shared by Copenhagen. Denmark has set up a secret committee to get a clarification of what the foreign policy consequences of uranium exports from Greenland would mean. This committee has been set up by the foreign ministry’s security policy’s office which underscores that these two countries completely disagree on the issue,” Wang told Danish newspaper Politiken.

Cindy Vestergaard, an expert on nuclear weapon at the Danish Institute for International Studies, said the report would be the first of many trying to evaluate which country should decide on uranium in Greenland.

The new report is clearly in favour of the Greenlandic government, she said, adding that Nuuk would have to prove that it can prevent its uranium from being used for military purposes.

Full article: Greenland report paves way for sovereign uranium mining (EurActiv)

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