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Kuupik Kleist, Greenland’s former premier, was an outspoken critic of the process that led up to the recent overturning of his county’s 25-year-old ban on the mining of radioactive materials. The Arctic Journal asked Kleist what was next for Greenland now that the ban has been removed.
“The decision to lift the ban was made with very limited analysis of the consequences, not only of the decision itself, but also of what will come next,” he said. “There are over 30 international conventions and agreements which have to be considered with regards to safety when excavating, treating, transporting and selling uranium.”
Kleist said establishing partners and alliances as Greenland moves into its possible future as a uranium exporting country will create any number of tricky issues, many with the Danish government.
Greenland is a self-governing member of the Danish kingdom, but its defence and foreign policies are determined in Copenhagen. A Danish foreign ministry statement said that because uranium “could potentially have wide-ranging effects” Nuuk and Copenhagen had agreed to co-operate closely on the issue.
“The bottom line is that the coalition announced that they will analyse the decision after it has already been made,” said Kleist.
Kleist is among those who believe the government rammed the uranium decision through parliament.
“The people of Greenland demanded in a loud voice that the basic democratic processes be followed, but the coalition chose to ignore that voice.”
Kleist said there are many more pieces to the puzzle that is Greenland’s economic future – including oil – that have been placed on the back burner during all of the smoke and noise surrounding the uranium debate.
“We should put much more focus on the many viable projects that meet existing regulations than the three controversial projects like Kvanefieldthat will benefit from this legislation,” he concluded.