- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt said yesterday it will build several nuclear power plants, moving to the front of a group of nations raising fears of Middle Eastern proliferation with pushes to develop nuclear energy.

President Hosni Mubarak announced live on national television that Egypt is building the power stations to diversify Egypt’s energy resources and preserve the country’s oil and gas for future generations.

“Energy security is a major part of building the future for this country and an integral part of Egypt’s national security system,” Mr. Mubarak said at a ceremony inaugurating the second phase of construction of an electrical power plant north of Cairo.

Jordan, Turkey and several Gulf Arab countries also announced that they are interested in developing nuclear power programs, and Yemen’s government signed an agreement last month with Houston-based Powered Corp. to build civilian nuclear plants over the next 10 years.

The declarations of peaceful intentions have not eased worries that the countries could be taking the first steps toward a dangerous proliferation of nuclear technology in response to Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. calls cover for weapons development.

Iran says it wants energy only for civilian purposes and has ignored international demands that it halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce either electricity or fissile material for a nuclear warhead.

The State Department said Washington would not object to Egypt’s program as long as it respects rules of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Countries that are members in good standing of the NPT and enter into agreements with IAEA regarding safeguards for peaceful nuclear energy, we have no problem with that,” spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. “Those states who want to pursue peaceful nuclear energy abiding by their international commitments, that’s not a problem for us. … Those are countries that we can work with.”

Mr. Mubarak said he will re-establish the Supreme Council for the Peaceful Purposes of Nuclear Power, which would be in charge of the nuclear program. He also said Egypt will seek the help of its “international partners” and the IAEA in building the plants.

Last year, Mr. Mubarak’s son, Gamal, called for Egypt to revive plans for a nuclear program that was publicly shelved after the 1986 accident at the Soviet nuclear plant in Chernobyl.

A committee was formed to study Egypt’s nuclear potential, and the U.S. ambassador said Washington would be willing to help its Middle East ally develop a peaceful program.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide