Egypt announces plans to build nuclear plants
- Egypt announces plans to build nuclear plants
Monday, October 29, 2007 |
Egypt's president announced plans Monday to build several nuclear
power plants the latest in a string of such proposals from moderate
The United States immediately welcomed the plan, in sharp contrast to
what it called nuclear "cheating" by Iran.
President Hosni Mubarak said the aim is to diversify Egypt's energy
resources and preserve its oil and gas reserves for future
generations. In a televised speech, he pledged Egypt would work with
the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency at all times and would not
seek a nuclear bomb.
But Mubarak also made clear there were strategic reasons for the
program, calling secure sources of energy "an integral part of Egypt's
national security system."
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the
U.S. would not object to the program as long as Egypt adhered to the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) guidelines.
"The problem has arisen, specifically in the case of Iran, where you
have a country that has made certain commitments, and in our view and
the shared view of many (is) cheating on those obligations," he said.
"For those states who want to pursue peaceful nuclear energy that's
not a problem for us," McCormack said. "Those are countries that we
can work with."
The U.S. accuses Iran of using the cover of a peaceful nuclear program
to secretly work toward building a bomb, an allegation Iran denies.
Iran asserts it has a right to peaceful nuclear power and needs it to
meet its economy's voracious energy needs.
Iran's program has prompted a slew of Mideast countries to announce
plans of their own in part simply to blunt Tehran's rising regional
Jordan, Turkey and several Gulf Arab countries have announced in
recent months that they are interested in developing nuclear power
programs, and Yemen's government signed a deal with a U.S. company in
September to build civilian nuclear plants over the next 10 years.
Algeria also signed a cooperation accord with the U.S. on civil
nuclear energy in June, and Morocco announced a deal last week under
which France will help develop nuclear reactors there.
Program shelved after Chernobyl
Egypt first announced a year ago that it was seeking to restart a
nuclear program that was publicly shelved in the aftermath of the 1986
accident at the Soviet nuclear plant in Chernobyl.
Mubarak offered no timetable Monday, but a year ago, Hassan Yunis, the
minister of electricity and energy, said Egypt could have an
operational nuclear power plant within 10 years.
Egypt has conducted nuclear experiments for research purposes on a
very small scale for the past four decades, at a reactor northeast of
Cairo, but has not included the key process of uranium enrichment,
according to the IAEA.
Experts predict the first of the nuclear facilities could be built in
as little as three years.
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