CAIRO: Egypt criticized Saturday a resolution put forward by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) calling for Iran to immediately cease construction on its recently revealed nuclear facility in Qom.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told reporters Saturday that while Egypt was opposed to Iran keeping the site secret, the resolution was “unbalanced because it failed to take into account the “regional dimension .
Zaki was referring to Israel, which is widely believed to possess a highly developed nuclear program despite never officially announcing it. The spokesman believed the resolution should have included all countries in the region.
“The continuous existence of unannounced nuclear facilities – not under the IAEA safeguards system – in the Middle East represents a threat to the Egyptian national security and the whole region s security as well, he said.
Egypt abstained on voting in the resolution, which passed with a 25-3 vote on the agency’s Board of Governors with 6 abstentions and one member missing the ballot on Friday. This is the agency’s first resolution since 2006.
Egypt abstained – but didn’t vote against the resolution – because it did not also want to appear to be supportive of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to Zaki. The spokesman also said not enough time was given for discussion.
Iran also reacted negatively to the resolution, its IAEA ambassador; Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh said it would adversely affect negotiations between the agency and Iran regarding its nuclear program.
Calling it “undue and hasty , Soltaniyeh said the resolution might “jeopardize the spirit of cooperation in the negotiations but insisted that Iran would continue to work with the agency on its nuclear program.
“We expect the agency to play its essential role and facilitate technical cooperation. The agency should function in a depoliticized environment, as we need to ensure that the agency focuses only on technical matters, he said.
Outgoing IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradie told the Board of Governors Thursday that he had reached an impasse regarding whether Iran was attempting to develop nuclear weapons or not because Tehran was not cooperating.
Egypt was also critical of another IAEA draft resolution reached Friday that granted Russia permission to create a reserve of enriched Uranium that would be used to provide IAEA member states with nuclear fuel.
Zaki said Egypt opposed the draft resolution because it did not want what it called attempts to monopolize the production of nuclear fuel. Additionally, the resolution “does not state as a condition that countries benefiting from the Russian reserve of low enriched Uranium [must] be members of the Treaty.