Egypt to sign nuclear pact with Russia
The Media Line News Agency , THE JERUSALEM POST
Mar. 24, 2008

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak heads for Russia on Monday where he is expected to get assurances of Russian assistance to build a nuclear facility.

A bilateral nuclear power deal was outlined last week and is expected to be signed during the visit.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit said the pact would enable Egypt to tap into Russia's extensive experience in the field of nuclear energy.

The deal could allow Russia to participate in a tender to build nuclear reactors in Egypt.

The pact coincides with international efforts to pressure Iran into abandoning its nuclear program. Iran insists its program is for civilian purposes of manufacturing energy, but Western countries are concerned Teheran is covertly making an atomic bomb.

The technologies for creating nuclear energy and nuclear bombs are similar and involve many dual-usage elements and substances.

Egypt is one of several Middle Eastern countries seeking a nuclear program. Cairo wants to revive its atomic energy program, which was aborted in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, when the dangers of such a program became apparent.

Other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region seeking nuclear programs include Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, the Gulf countries and possibly Syria.

All the nuclear newcomers in the region, including Iran, claim their programs have peaceful purposes. But there are concerns that these countries are not only seeking new energy sources, but also wish to maintain a strategic balance in the region against Iran and against Israel's alleged atomic weapons program.

Israel maintains an official policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities.

Russia is seen as a global leader in nuclear know-how and is helping Iran build some of its nuclear power plants, including the plant in Bushehr.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has decided to set up a nuclear agency to assess and develop its nuclear energy program. The UAE signed an agreement with France in January to help develop the program.

Under the agreement, the UAE will not enrich uranium but will import the key substance from a "trusted foreign source," according to the Emirati news agency WAM.

Original article: Jerusalem Post
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