Egypt wants diplomatic solution to Iran crisis

Daily Star Egypt Staff
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Egypt said on Thursday it wanted a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Iran s nuclear program and could not accept the emergence of a new nuclear-armed power in the region. In a statement after a meeting with the U.S. State Department s senior arms control official, it also said that failure to persuade Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was a setback to the non-proliferation system. It is important to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis over the Iranian nuclear file, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said in the statement. Egypt cannot accept the appearance of a military nuclear force in the region, since that would further complicate the regional security imbalance in the Middle East, he added. The Foreign Ministry released the statement after Abul-Gheit had talks with U.S. Under Secretary of State Robert Joseph, who handles arms control and international security. Joseph will also visit other countries in the region to talk about Iran s nuclear program after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announced this week that his country has succeeded in producing enriched uranium, officials said. Abul-Gheit said there had been no progress toward the Egyptian goal of a nuclear-free Middle East in the light of Israel s persistence in refusing to join the NPT or even announce its intention to join the NPT. Israel is widely believed to have some 200 nuclear warheads but the United States and the European Union rarely talk about Israel s nuclear activities. Joseph said the United States remained in favor of universal adherence to the NPT but was concentrating for the moment on what he called the urgent threat posed by Iran to the non-proliferation system.

Russia is one of the countries that have been attempting to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear crisis.

Russia s nuclear chief said Thursday that Iran is far from being capable of industrial-scale uranium enrichment, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko said the enrichment facility in the Iranian city of Natanz, equipped with 164 gas centrifuges, could not produce any significant amount of enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel power plants or produce atomic weapons.

These centrifuges allow Iran to conduct laboratory uranium enrichment to a low level in insignificant amounts, Kiriyenko was quoted as saying. The acquisition of highly enriched uranium is unfeasible today using this method.

Vladimir Yevseyev, an expert with the Carnegie Moscow Center, told Ekho Moskvy radio that Ahmadinejad s announcement was intended to bolster his popularity in the Islamic world.

The West will perceive it as the crossing of yet another red line, and it will stymie the efforts taken by Russia and China to help achieve a compromise, Yevseyev said.

Beijing said Thursday that it was sending a top diplomat to Iran and Russia to discuss the dispute over Tehran s uranium enrichment program. Russia and China have urged Iran to return to a moratorium on all enrichment activity, but they have opposed the U.S. push for sanctions against Tehran.

Meanwhile, Yuri Solomonov, the head of the Moscow-based Heat Technology Institute, Russia s top missile design center, said that Iran lacks the technology and industrial base for building ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States but that it could threaten its neighbors with shorter-range missiles.

From the point of view of danger to the region s nations, including Israel, that s a serious threat that could not be neglected, Solomonov said at a news conference.

Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst, told Interfax that Israel could be tempted to launch a strike against Iran before Russia provides Tehran with sophisticated Tor-M1 air defense missiles. The missile deal has drawn strong U.S. and Israeli criticism, and Markov said that Russia was delaying their delivery.

Russia is demonstrating maximum restraint and has not begun deliveries, but our Western partners unfortunately are ignoring this tremendous act of Russia s goodwill, Markov said, according to Interfax. Agencies

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