Egypt not to cooperate with Iran in nuclear technology

Politics Materials 6 July 2011 10:29 (UTC +04:00)
Egypt will not cooperate with Iran in nuclear technology, even under the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, experts say.
Egypt not to cooperate with Iran in nuclear technology

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 5 /Trend, T.Konyayeva/

Egypt will not cooperate with Iran in nuclear technology, even under the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, experts say.

"Now the situation has changed in Egypt, and Cairo is ready to cooperate with Iran, the editor of Egyptian newspaper "Al-Ahram", Sherif Shubashi told Trend in a telephone conversation. - But the only sphere in which Egypt would not cooperate with any government is the nuclear weapons and technology, since it has always supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East."

Iran stands ready to cooperate with Egypt in all fields, including in the production of peaceful nuclear energy, said the Secretary of Supreme National Security Council of Iran Seyid Jalili, the Egyptian newspaper "Al-Ahram" reported.

Jalili welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries, stressing Iran's readiness to share its experience with Egypt in the scientific field and in the field of nuclear technologies.

According to Shubashi, Tehran is trying to create a front against Israel and the West, for which is conducting talks with various states, including the Arab countries.

"Given Egypt's role in the region, as well as rapprochement, which has been observed in recent years between Tehran and Cairo, of course, the ideal assistant for the Islamic Republic in this case would be Egypt," he said.

Tehran and Cairo broke off diplomatic relations in the wake of Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979 after the then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed the Camp David peace agreement with Israel and then granted political asylum to the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi.

Relations remained hostile through much of the 1980s, when Egypt supported Saddam Hussein's Iraq against revolutionary Iran in the two countries' eight-year-long war of attrition. Today, Cairo remains the only Arab capital not to have formal relations with Tehran.

In early April, 2011, Nabil al-Arabi, Egypt's first post-revolutionary foreign minister, declared that Cairo was ready to "turn a new page" with Iran.

On May 25, al-Arabi met with Iran's FM Ali Akbar Salehi on the sidelines of a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Bali, Indonesia, where the two men reportedly discussed the prospect of reactivated bilateral relations. Less than a week later, a 50-strong Egyptian delegation visited Tehran, where they, too, discussed with Iranian counterparts the possible resumption of ties.

Shubashi believes that Iran's proposal to some extent alerts Egypt and forces to reconsider its relations with Iran.

"Cairo has been willing to cooperate with Iran in all spheres, but after they made suggestions, Egypt will become alerted, becoming aware that Iran is trying to draw it into a crisis," he said.

Professor Reza Taghizadeh said what Jalili has said is purely a political gesture and not a genuine offer of partnership with Egypt.

"Very young in the field of nuclear technology, Iran has, but only a little to share with other states in that department," Taghizadeh wrote in an e-mail to Trend.

He believes that even more experienced states in the sphere of nuclear energy, like India and China, instead of offering partnership to inexperienced governments, prefer to gain further knowledge and advanced technology from the states with proven nuclear expertise like Russia and Canada in order to meet with their needs and demands.

"Far from being developed into an industrialized state, Iran has yet to make even a laboratory reactor let alone a commercial one, capable of producing electricity," said Taghizadeh.

According to expert, in terms of producing nuclear fuel, and uranium enrichment, although
it has domestically developed nuclear fuel cycle, the end result is not state of the art that could entice other states to copy it.

"Iran's nuclear fuel cycle is very basic," said Taghizadeh. "Therefore, neither Egypt nor any other state can rationalise such offer and willing to have nuclear cooperation with Iran."

He said moreover, under a few punitive UN sanctions, the political stigma of Iran nuclear activity makes any conventional regime in the world to stay away from the country's nuclear activities. Egypt is not an exception.

"Egypt of course is in need of more electricity production, and nuclear generated electricity is more sustainable and cheaper for the Egyptians than other sources. But its regional political standing and the Arab-Israeli conflict make it difficult for them to go towards nuclear development program free of any regional resistances," said Taghizadeh. "Even if they manage to over come political briers of nuclear energy, Iran would be the last state that they might turn to in order to satisfy their demands."

Iranian nuclear program has caused concern since 2003, when the IAEA became aware of its concealed activity. In late 2003, Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and voluntarily announced about the suspension of uranium enrichment. However, it returned to this activity. Iran insists that as a party to the NPT it has the full right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear weapons. However, it is necessary as fuel for nuclear power plants. Several states, including the U.S., believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and want to prevent this development.

However, Iran continues to insist that as a party to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, it has every right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and refuses to suspend uranium enrichment on its territory.

According to Taghizadeh, Egypt is yet to decide to normalize political relations with the Islamic regime in Tehran and nuclear cooperation is not the most immediate field of cooperation that they could utilize, if they ever decided to restore political ties between them.

"Iran once, in the 70s, advocated the "Middle East Nuclear free zone". At that time Egypt was Iran's political ally," he said. "Iran still is trying to hide behind the same slogan, but this time it is accused of pursuing nuclear bomb itself."