US pledges nuclear aid to Egypt

The irony is certainly not lost on Iran. From Business in Africa, Sept. 22:

Cairo – The United States ambassador to Egypt, Francis Ricciardone, said his country has no problem with an Egyptian nuclear programme and was ready to supply nuclear technology to help.

Ricciardone said during an interview with the Egyptian TV station El-Mehwar: “We have a programme, the Global Nuclear Energy Programme. We are ready to supply nuclear technology to friendly states which want to benefit from civilian, peaceful nuclear power.”

President of Egypt Hosini Mubarak said recently: “We must increase our exploitation of new energy sources, including the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

He added: “I call for a serious debate, taking into consideration what nuclear technology can provide by way of clean inexpensive energy sources.”

President Mubarak was echoing a call that was made on Tuesday by his son, Gamal Mubarak.

Gamal Mubarak made the proposal to the US to assist Egypt on nuclear energy during the fourth annual conference of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

The Egyptian nuclear programme was launched in 1954. The country acquired its first nuclear reactor from the Soviet Union in 1961.

The 2mW reactor was opened by President Gamal Abdel-Nasser at Inchass, in the Nile Delta. The Soviets controlled the disposal of this small nuclear research reactor’s spent fuel, which in any event was not capable of producing a significant amount of weapons-grade material.

Egyptian nuclear ambitions were discarded following the 1967 defeat at the hands of Israel. Egypt signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968, but delayed ratifying it, presumably because the government had evidence that Israel had embarked on a nuclear weapons programme.

Subsequently, Egypt lost many of its nuclear experts who had to travel abroad to seek work opportunities. Some emigrated to Canada and others joined the Iraqi nuclear programme.

See our last post on Egypt.