U.S. geologists have found some $1 trillion of untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Sunday. Afghanistan's mineral wealth includes large caches of iron, copper, gold and lithium that could turn the country into one of the most important mining centers in the world.
Think of Australia, Canada, and Latin America. That is the league into which these geographical revelations have thrust Afghanistan.
"There is stunning potential here," General David Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, told The Times. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant."
Those "ifs" include ongoing warfare, a lack of infrastructure, and more than a little political corruption. But the upside for the country is enormous.
While U.S. officials estimate the potential value of Afghanistan's mineral wealth at $1 trillion, President Hamid Karzai said last month during a visit to Washington that his country's deposits could be worth three times as much.
So why did it take so long for this information to surface?