Egypt does not oppose Arab nuclear ambitions

Abdel-Rahman Hussein
4 Min Read

Egypt does not oppose the peaceful applications of nuclear power in the manner Arab Gulf countries recently declared they want to pursue, an Egyptian diplomatic source told The Daily Star Egypt.

The source stated “Egypt has no opposition against any country seeking a peaceful nuclear program as long as it adheres to the international standards defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and does not seek military nuclear power.

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Bahrain – had announced at the closing of their summit Sunday that they would consider a shared nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

This decision falls in concordance with both Gulf and Egyptian policy according to Ahsraf El Essawy, a researcher in Gulf affairs.

El Essawy told The Daily Star Egypt “Gulf countries believe that every nation has a right to the exploration of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Egypt supports the Gulf stance and the National Democratic Party (NDP) recently discussed re-launching Egypt’s stalled nuclear program.

According to El Essawy, both Egypt and the Gulf countries have reservations about military use of nuclear power and their desire is to clear the region of weapons of mass destruction, whether in Israel or Iran.

Arabs condemn Israel nuclear program, Page 3

El Essawy agreed that the Gulf nations are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program for safety reasons in addition to political concerns.

“With Iraq under occupation, Iran is now the strongest country in the region, El Essawy said, “this is a threat to Gulf countries. They want guarantees about Iran’s intentions, and also about safety. They are worried about another Chernobyl occurring, especially as Iran’s reactor is close to Gulf cities.

Iran’s reactor is located in Bushehr, across the water from Kuwait and the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. It is due to go on line in late 2007. As there are American military bases on Gulf soil, the Gulf countries fear retaliation in case a conflict ensues between the US or Israel and Iran.

Iran has stated that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

El Essawy believes the GCC’s recent declaration is not specifically a message to Iran, as they have been exploring the possibility of a nuclear program for two years, but did say “Iran has a bigger role in the region now and the Gulf countries have fears about Iranian use of nuclear power.

The press reported that the US State Department said Monday it had no objection to the GCC developing a nuclear program because they did not show an inclination to build atomic bombs.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormick however did not believe this was the case with Iran.

He was reported as saying “Make no mistake about it: If Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, that would be one of the most – if not the most – destabilizing event that we have ever seen in the Middle East, which is why we are trying to make sure that that doesn t happen.

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