Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug.28 / Trend, U.Sadikhova /
Although the construction of nuclear power plant in Egypt aims meeting domestic power needs, it's not excluded that Cairo's step is taken to counterbalance Iran.
"After atomic plant in Busher [Iran] was commissioned, Egypt rushed to construct own nuclear power plant," president of the Russian Institute for Middle Eastern Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky told Trend over telephone.
"I don't believe that the plant is going to be against any country in the region, I don't see a power politics playing on that issue," East Carolina University's professor Jalil Roshandel told Trend over telephone.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this week announced the site for construction of the nuclear power plant, which is the first in the country, as well as on the Mediterranean coast. It is expected to be launched by 2020, the Egyptian media reported.
Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said President Hosni Mubarak decided that the first NPP would be located in el-Dabaa, on the coast west of the port city of Alexandria.
The Egyptian authorities state that "the peaceful atom will meet the country's power needs, as well as diversify its sources."
During the period of implementation of the program the country intends to set up eight nuclear reactors.
According to the Russian expert, during the last 50 years besides Egypt Israel also possessed a nuclear power plant in Dimona. However, Cairo didn't take any step against this country, because its actions over the past 30 years have been directed against Iran.
Mubarak's statements followed a few days after the Russian and Iranian experts began fueling the first reactor of the Busher plant in the Iranian southern port of the same name Aug. 21.
After Iran launched a nuclear power plant, other major countries in the Middle East region, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, will also want to possess it, Satanovsky said.
However, Arab expert Akram Khuzam believes that nuclear power plant will be used solely to cover Egypt's domestic energy needs. "Nuclear power plant in Egypt is not targeted against the geographically distant Iran, or against Israel, with which first among Arab countries Cairo signed a peace agreement," Khuzam, a member of Trend Expert Council said over telephone.
According to Khuzam, the threat of failure to provide the internal energy market emerged after a number of the African countries threatened to leave the agreement on the distribution of water resources of the Nile Basin, which is a source of power and agricultural irrigation.
Agreement on the use of Nile waters based on the previous agreements is regulated by the Group of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), which includes also Egypt.
At present, the NBI countries prepare a new framework agreement, but Egypt inhibits its formulation and opposes any project that could reduce its share in the distribution of water (55.5 billion cubic meters).
In addition, Egypt supports the Middle East free of the nuclear weapons, mainly criticizing the "secrecy of the Israeli nuclear potential" and development of the Iranian program.
According to Roshandel, the U.S. expert on security issues in the Middle East, the Egyptians had to revise on the previous view.
"When they started the idea was a nuclear free zone that was more general idea that could include for peaceful purposes. Now they see that the rival Iran is following is for peace purposes, so they separate their idea of military purposes from the peaceful purposes," Roshandel said.
"I do agree strongly that this is a dual use technology, the same technology that is used in civilian arena can be used in the military arena," he said.
He believes that the announcement of building the nuclear plant on the Mediterranean coast should not be seen as against any other regional power.
Egypt already possesses two experimental nuclear reactors in the research center in Inshas, mainly designed to receive isotopes. Both reactors are controlled by the IAEA. In addition, Egypt has significant reserves of uranium ore.