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US Knowledge of Aghan Mineral Bonanza Confirmed in 2002, 2007

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Steven Hynd at Newshoggers.com also makes the interesting point that the timing of the Afghan minerals announcement is not merely opportunistic. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was “very well known to the Soviets in 1985″ and “a US government Country Study in 2002 went into detail about their knowledge”, he writes. No, the interestnig point is that we should consider also the intended audience for the announcement. The audience is not the American public, but the elite policy makers who govern decisions around the debacle that is the Afghan conflict. Hynd writes:

“…guaranteed U.S. access to ”strategic reserves” of “strategic minerals”, where possession is nine tenths of the game and the resources are just as valuable still in the ground as mined and processed for market, is a heady brew to mostly-hawkish senior policymakers and Very Serious think-tankers, especially if the end of the sentence goes ‘and China doesn’t get them”. Risen’s stenography isn’t aimed at us, but at them and will be used to add some geopolitical weight to the arguments McChrystal and others are already beginning to make as to why they should be allowed to break their promise to Obama and the U.S. should stay in Afghanistan a few years longer.”

Related: Lithium, gold, iron, copper: Massive mineral discovery in Afghanistan could alter the war | LSE Report: Pakistan ISI backs Taliban | Karzai’s Afghan peace conference ends with agreement on Taliban amnesty | NATO to begin handing control to Afghans | UN in secret peace talks with Taliban | Afghanistan conference agrees on exit timetable, Taliban bailout | General McChrystal indicates talks with Taliban to be discussed | UK ‘backs Taliban reintegration’ | Pipeline Opens New Front In Afghan War | Canadians could be defending Afghan gas pipeline | US Allowed Taliban, Al-Qaeda Airlift Evacuation

Paul Jay, Huffington Post
June 14, 2010

Did a 2007 report of massive mineral deposits in Afghanistan affect President Obama’s 2009 decision to widen the scope of the Afghan war?

Is a recent New York Times article omitting that possibility?

A U.S. Geological Survey has shown that Afghanistan is one of the worlds’ biggest depositories of minerals and precious metals. Include on that list, a lithium find that could be as large as Bolivia’s, now the world’s major source of the rare mineral.

The New York Times reported on Sunday, June 13, 2010 “The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials. The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.”

According to the NYT story, “an internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”

The problem is, what the NYT describes as “beyond any previously known reserves” and “the previously unknown deposits”, were in fact quite well known — in 2007, well before President Obama made the fateful decision to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.

One did not need to read an “internal Pentagon memo” to find about the discovery. Just visit the public web site of the U.S. Geological Survey and read the press release “Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan Released: 11/13/2007 10:00:00 AM” and you will find the following: “Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2007 assessment . . . Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. Scientists also found indications of abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline and peridot. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel.”

In an interview with USGS’s Stephen Peters published at the same time on the same site, Peters says there are “Known deposits of asbestos, mercury, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, beryllium, and lithium.”

In the NYT story this is all presented as a recent and pleasant surprise to the Afghan government. According to the NYT, after the USGS survey was completed in 2006 and ’07, “the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments.”

The problem is the USGS results were announced in 2007 at the 3rd annual U.S.-Afghan Business Matchmaking Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

The press release from the USGS included a quote from Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Said T. Jawad, who said at the time “Afghanistan’s natural resources have a quality comparable to the highest-class minerals of the entire region.”

Why the story broke in the NYT on Sunday could be linked to a desire by the Pentagon to create a reason why US troops might want to stick around in Afghanistan for some time to come. Things are not going very well on the ground and the promise of vast mineral riches would sound enticing.

The Times story includes a quote from Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command who says, “There is stunning potential here.”

The serious question is did the knowledge of these massive mineral deposits affect President Obama’s decision to increase troop levels and widen the scale of operations in Afghanistan? Are Canada, the UK and other NATO countries aware of the USGS report?

Has securing this mineral bonanza become the real US/NATO mission in the region?

Source | See Also under Afghanistan: Military wanted detainee whistle-blower pulled from Afghanistan | Lithium, gold, iron, copper: Massive mineral discovery in Afghanistan could alter the war | Moscow opens Central Asian supply route for Afghan mission, NATO believes tide turning in Kandahar | Canada’s Dhala Dam development project hobbled by connections to Karzai security firm | Tories worked hard to paint bloody Afghan war as peace mission: MEP documents | Karzai’s Afghan peace conference ends with agreement on Taliban amnesty | Afghan deployment past 2011 possible: MPs | US acknowledges mistaken attack on Afghan civilians | Afghan president’s half-brother denies corruption | Abuses at US ‘Black Jail’ in Afghanistan confirmed | MPs reach agreement to share Afghan detainee document information | Afghan torture documents release talks get extension | Afghan authorities beat citizens on ‘whim’: Military inquiry | Omar Khadr turned down plea deal | Speaker orders Harper government to cough up Afghan detainee documents | Khadr pretrial hearings begin | Taliban fighters lay down their guns to harvest opium poppies | NATO to begin handing control to Afghans | ‘Vast’ biometric database prompts troops to open fire on vehicle, 4 unarmed Afghans killed | Censors threaten detainee hearings | Afghan torture allegations erupt in UK | Canadian Afghan withdrawal could pass through Pakistan | Canadian forces covered up shooting of sleeping 17-yr old: Afghan translator | Canada knew in 2007 Kandahar governor tortured prisoners in dungeon, bombed UN personnel | U.S. officials say Pakistani spy agency released Afghan Taliban insurgents | Taliban support strong in Kandahar: poll | Military Police begin Afghan detainee torture investigative hearings, reporters barred | US special forces ‘tried to cover-up’ botched Khataba raid in Afghanistan | Controversial use of mercenary forces surges in Afghanistan | Afghan tension mounts as NATO offensive looms | Tories table thousands more censored Afghan files | Afghan parliament says no to Karzai bid for more control over election watchdog | MacKay knew of Afghan detainee concerns: diplomat | Full Afghan withdrawal ‘wrong,’ top Tory says | Tories flood Ottawa with blacked-out documents in response to Afghan torture scandal | U.S. to press for Canada to keep troops in Afghanistan | New policy shrouds number of Canada’s Afghan campaign injuries in secrecy | Opposition threatens contempt motion over Afghan torture documents | Defence Department official used private contractors for spy network in AfPak | Ottawa anticipated Afghan torture allegations: memo | CSIS secretly interrogated Afghan prisoners | Canada wanted Afghan prisoners tortured: lawyer | Harper grilled over prorogation, Afghan detainee torture documents | Russia blames Nato for heroin surge from Afghanistan | NATO prepares for major Kandahar offensive, refugee camps | Afghan ministers voice anger as civilians killed in Nato air strike | Hamid Karzai takes control of Afghanistan election watchdog | White House welcomes Afghan Taliban No. 2 capture | Five civilians killed in Nato rocket attack in Afghanistan | NATO’s novel battle tactic spawns opposite effects as 12 civilians killed | NATO, Afghan troops launch largest air assault of Afghan war | Blackwater accused of defrauding US government, billing for hooker under ‘morale’ | Marjah, Afghanistan: Countdown To A Battle | Omar Khadr’s rights were violated: Ruling sees top court clash with Tories | Military probes beating of Afghan prisoner | Afghanistan conference agrees on exit timetable, Taliban bailout | British and US troops to launch new Afghanistan offensive | General McChrystal indicates talks with Taliban to be discussed | Killer of CIA agents in Afghanistan called for revenge for Baitullah Mehsud | Ex-Blackwater contractors charged with Afghan killings | For more see The Memory Hole — Afghanistan

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3 Responses to “US Knowledge of Aghan Mineral Bonanza Confirmed in 2002, 2007”

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