Krassimir Ivandjiiski
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Egypt refuses to sign UN nuclear protocols

 December 12, 2007

CAIRO, Egypt: Egypt refuses to sign additional measures allowing for more stringent inspections of its nuclear program, especially since Israel has not even signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said according to newspapers Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Ministry Ramzy Ezzedine Ramzy reiterated Egypt's stance that it had no intention of signing the Additional Protocol of the International Atomic Energy Association giving greater access to information and inspections, in a speech Tuesday.

"Egypt will not sign the Additional Protocol, since it's a voluntary thing," he said at a meeting of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Affairs where he delivered a speech by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

"In comparison with Israel, which chooses to stay outside international legitimacy and not join the Nonproliferation Treaty, Egypt will not accept any additional commitment," he added.

Ramzy warned that some countries were trying to make the Additional Protocol a condition of receiving nuclear technology, despite it being voluntary.

After publicly shelving the nuclear program in the aftermath of the 1986 accident at the Soviet nuclear plant in Chernobyl, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for Egypt to revive plans to develop atomic power.

Ramzy also complained that the US-Iranian dispute over the Islamic republic nuclear ambitions has made it difficult for a country like Egypt to obtain enriched uranium fuel, as exporters of the fuel have imposed several preconditions including commitments not to enrich uranium.

Egypt says that such preconditions are a burden and make developing countries eternally dependent on developed countries in obtaining nuclear fuel.

"In reality, the nonproliferation treaty doesn't prohibit nuclear activities including enrichment as long as these activities remain peaceful and under the supervision of the agency," Ramzy said.

'The deputy minister also called for closer Arab cooperation in the nuclear field at a time when Iran's emerging program has spurred a renewed interest in the energy source across the Middle East.

"Arab cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy is extremely crucial especially that there are serious proposals," he said referring to Saudi proposal last month to set up a regional complex for enriching uranium.

"We reject any move to make Egypt's nuclear program largely dependent on foreign components," Ramzy said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on Iran to produce enriched uranium jointly with Arab Gulf countries in a country outside the Middle East, where the plant could be properly monitored by international observers.

In February 2005, the IAEA disclosed that it was investigating Egypt's nuclear activities. It concluded that Egypt had conducted atomic research for as long as four decades, but the research did not aim to develop nuclear weapons and did not include uranium enrichment.

Amid fears that a number of countries were developing nuclear weapons programs, the U.N. watchdog developed the Additional Protocol which allows more exhaustive investigations in places like universities, hospitals and industrial complexes that may not have nuclear materials, but manufacture the equipment involved.



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