Posted by: sean | September 22, 2006

A nuclear Egypt?

While thinking about Iran and the bomb, I’ve often wondered if Israel would rather be a nuclear power among others in the region or to be a non-nuclear power in a nuclear-free Middle East. Because it seems that with nuclear weapons in Iran and Israel (not to mention India and Pakistan), it would only be a matter of time until Egypt and Saudi Arabia started looking into nuclear weapons.

It turns out that I was right, or at least might be, since Gamal Mubarak, the Egyptian President’s son and probably heir, has announced Egypt’s interest in developing nuclear power.

“The whole world — I don’t want to say all, but many developing countries ? have proposed and started to execute the issue of alternative energy,” [Gamal Mubarak] said. “It is time for Egypt to put forth, and the party will put forth, this proposal for discussion about its future energy policies, the issue of alternative energy, including nuclear energy, as one of the alternatives.”

He also said in a clear reference to the White House: “We do not accept visions from abroad that try to dissolve the Arab identity and the joint Arab efforts within the framework of the so-called Greater Middle East Initiative.”

…”Egypt, and especially the N.D.P., is a strategic ally of the U.S.,” said Hassan Abou Taleb, an analyst with the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “It does not seek confrontation with the U.S. over its nuclear program. Instead, it seeks cooperation. Why should the U.S. assist India in its nuclear program and not Egypt?”

Of course, no one is talking about nuclear weapons in Egypt, just nuclear power. But then again, that’s the official line in Iran as well. It seems obvious to me that Indian, Pakistani, and especially Israeli, nuclear weapons programs are only going to drive other countries like Egypt, and I predict that Saudi Arabia will follow suit, to try their hand at entering the nuclear club.

To my mind, the Middle East should be a nuke-free zone, and allowing Israel to have nuclear weapons and the Bush administration’s talk of “useable nuclear weapons” that could be used against non-nuclear countries, have only ensured that more and more countries will seek nuclear arms.

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