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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Serving America’s National Interests

By Donald V. Watkins

©Copyrighted and Published on December 10, 2018

On many occasions, men and women who do not don a military uniform serve America’s national interests abroad. It is often dangerous work, but important to a grateful nation.

Blocking Iranian Access to Nuclear Fuels

On March 27, 2012, Nabirm Global, LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama and Windhoek, Namibia-based energy services company, was awarded a uranium concession by Epangelo Mining Company (Pty) Ltd. Epangelo is the Republic of Namibia’s national mining company. The concession covered License Numbers 4676 and 4677 in the Erongo Region of Namibia.

Nuclear fuels had been declared a “strategic mineral resource” by the Namibian government. Subsequent to this declaration, the government lifted a national moratorium on uranium concessions for nuclear fuels so that Nabirm could compete for this concession against Iran’s state-owned Iranian Foreign Investment Company and others.

Nabirm, which was founded in 2011, worked closely with the U.S. State Department to make sure that an American-owned company would have the best chance of winning this uranium concession and keeping this strategic asset out of Iranian hands. At the time, the Iranians were desperately trying to develop their nuclear weapons program.

Nabirm briefed the State Department on the company’s progress every step of the way. Nabirm also ramped up its corporate social responsibility activities to become competitive with the Iranians in this regard.

In the end, Nabirm blocked Iran’s access to the uranium concessions in Namibia and Washington was very happy about it.

Diamond Trafficking Activity in Sierra Leone

In 2012, Masada Resource Group, LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based waste-to-energy company, worked with U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions and the U.S. State Department to address the spread of Iranian influence in Africa.

While departing Freetown, Sierra Leone on February 24, 2012, Masada executives witnessed the departure of an Iranian diplomatic mission at the airport and watched as the entire group boarded an Islamic Republic of Iran jumbo jetliner, together with what "insiders" believe were several heavily guarded duffle bags of diamonds. To the outside world, Sierra Leone may be poor when judged by the conditions we see on the surface. However, Sierra Leone is very rich in diamonds and other natural resources.

In 2006, the U.S. built a new $300 million embassy compound in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This compound attests to Sierra Leone's strategic importance to America’s national interests in West Africa, particularly as the Middle East becomes increasing hostile to U.S. interests.

The Iranians appeared to be offering much needed humanitarian assistance to the national government of Sierra Leone in exchange for access to the country’s mined diamonds. After the U.S. blocked Iran from participating in the SWIFT system for international banking transactions, diamonds became Iran’s currency of choice for transacting global commerce.

While it was too late to stop the February 24, 2012 shipment of diamonds out of the country, we were able to alert the appropriate U.S. officials in the hopes of mitigating future occurrences of such diamond trafficking.

Teaming With Evergreen International Aviation

From 2006 to 2008, Masada collaborated with Evergreen International Aviation in a deal to buy the cargo airline from Delford Smith, the company’s founder and owner. At the time, Evergreen was a civilian contractor with several national intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency.

As part of the due diligence process, Masada executives and representatives met with the liaisons from the government intelligence agencies involved with Evergreen. When requested, Evergreen vetted Masada’s potential business partners in foreign countries. This collaboration was extremely helpful to Masada and America’s national security interests.

Given the nature and locations of its business activities, Masada has been uniquely situated to collect human intelligence on a variety of subjects of importance to America. This intelligence has served our national interests and continues to do so today.

PHOTO: Iran’s influence in Africa is spreading while America’s is diminishing.

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