By Charles Kambanda, PhD
A. What does National Emergency with regard to a foreign country mean, under US Law and Diplomacy?
The US President has discretional power to declares a National Emergency with regard to a foreign country, under The National Emergency Act of 1976. Declaration of National Emergencywith regard to a foreign country, under the Natjonal Emergency Act, means that the US President, in his discretion, believes that the concerned country poses unusual and extraordinary threat to US interests.
National Emergency with regard to a foreign country, under the National Emergency Act of 1976 is another tool for the US President to do “soft diplomacy”. The National Emergency Act declaration often comes with economic restrictions for the target country.
The power for the US President to issue economic restrictions, as a result of the 1976 National Emergency declaration, is contained in The International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.
B. Does Burundi present unusual and extraordinary threat to US interests?
Burundi was unknown in International Trade until they discovered large deposits of precious ores, including Rainbow Rare Earth, rare reserves of Uranium, Vanadium, Tantalum, Cobalt, among other much needed minerals for manufacturing of electric cars, satellites, trains, heavy military hardware, aeroplanes, computers, etc. Since 2014, Burundi has been up for grabs, among superpower nations.
Russia and China were the proverbial first bird in Burundi’s new mining industry; they secured great concessions for exploitation of Burundi’s precious ores. The US and the Western allies did not have much left for grab.
Burundi (Gakara site) has the highest rare earth grade in the world. Nyabike site alone is believed to have over $30 billion worth of minerals. Mukanda site is about $600 million worth in minerals.
Burundi produced about 1,000 tons of rare earth in 2018; expected to stabilize at about 30,000 tons annually. Australia, US, Russia and China produce 19, 000 tons, 15,000 tons, 2,600 tons and 120,000 tons, respectively.
Trouble started when the Gov of Burundi excluded the US and western allies from mining concessions. Obama and his western allies tried a coup in 2015. It failed. Obama then declared Burundi a threat to US interests abroad.
Burundi feels comfortable with Russia and China. Recently, CVMR, a Canadian energy company tried to secure mining concessions in Burundi, I guess in vain.
President Trump renewed the National Emergency with Regard to Burundi, probably in a bid to get Burundi to the table. Will Burundi Gov heed, this time? Would Burundi gov offer anything to the West against Russia and China’s interests? Would Russia and China allow that to happen? I do not know.
Burundi will remains a “threat” to US interests abroad until they offer mining concessions to Western companies.