Egypt's president announces plans
to build several nuclear energy plants
Oct 29, 2007 - Maamoun Youssef - The Associated
CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on
Monday announced plans to build several nuclear power
plants, joining several Middle East Arab countries
that recently have said they are kick starting their
nuclear energy ambitions.
Mubarak said in a speech broadcast live on national
television that the decision to build these nuclear
power stations was to diversify Egypt's energy resources
and preserve the country's oil and gas reserves for
"I announce before you Egypt's position to prepare
the program for building several nuclear power stations.
We believe that energy security is a major part of
building the future for this country and an integral
part of Egypt's national security system,"
Mubarak said at a ceremony inaugurating the second
phase of construction of an electrical power plant
north of Cairo. Mubarak said he would issue a decree
in the coming days to 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 would seek the help of its "international
partners" and the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International
Atomic Energy Agency, in building the nuclear power
He said the nuclear program would be transparent
and respect Egypt's commitment to the Nonproliferation
of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.
Last year, Mubarak's son, Gamal, called for Egypt
to revive plans for a nuclear program that was publicly
shelved in the aftermath of the 1986 accident at the
Soviet nuclear plant in Chernobyl.
A committee was formed to study the program's possibilities,
and the U.S ambassador said Washington would be willing
to help its Mideast ally develop a peaceful program.
At the time, Hassan Yunis, the minister of electricity
and energy, said that Egypt could have an operational
nuclear power plant within 10 years.
Egypt has conducted nuclear experiments on a very
small scale for the past four decades, but they have
not included the key process of uranium enrichment,
according to the IAEA.
Earlier this year, former U.N. chief weapons inspector
Hans Blix said he supported Egypt's ambitions but
said it would be at least a decade before Cairo could
launch a nuclear program and urged Egypt to sign additional
protocols allowing for greater inspection oversight.
Iran's progress in building its nuclear program had
sparked a rush among other Middle East countries to
look at programs of their own to diversify and expand
their energy resources.
Yemen's government in September signed an agreement
with Houston-based Powered Corporation to build nuclear
power plants over the next 10 years to generate electricity.
Jordan, several Gulf Arab countries and Turkey have
also announced that they were interested in developing
peaceful nuclear programs.
But the rush has also raised the possibility of a
dangerous proliferation of nuclear technology in the
volatile region. The United States accuses Iran of
secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies
the claims and says its program is for peaceful purposes
including developing electricity.