News / Middle East

Analysts Say Egypt Must Remain Free of Nuclear Weapons

Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, Feb 11, 2011
Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, Feb 11, 2011

Multimedia

Audio

In this report from Washington, Senior Correspondent André de Nesnera looks at Egypt's nuclear program and its stance on chemical weapons.  With Egypt's political future still in limbo, analysts question whether Cairo's policy of not seeking nuclear weapons will remain in place.

Egypt's Nuclear Legacy

Egypt has two nuclear research reactors located at Inshas, near Cairo.  They are used for peaceful purposes, such as medical research and nuclear engineering experiments.

But analysts agree that Egypt sought to acquire a nuclear weapons capability back in the 1960s.  Former Defense Department official James Russell, who is now with the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California says interest in building a nuclear capability or developing an indigenous peaceful nuclear program ended during the presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

"Nasser realized the deep financial costs that are going to be required and he also realized the political costs that would accrue from an Egypt developing a nuclear program," said Russell.  "And so all these projects were canceled after the [Six Day] 1967 war.  And then in 1968, Egypt signs the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty [NPT].  And since then the Sadat government ratifies the NPT in February 1981.  And in 1982, they have a safeguards agreement, a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]."

Analyst Mark Fitzpatrick, from London's International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), says Egypt does not have the most modern technologies that could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

"The issue is, though, that Egypt conducted some experiments in plutonium separation that they did not notify the IAEA in accordance with their safeguards agreement and it later came out and the IAEA did an investigation," noted Fitzpatrick.  "And most of that was cleared up, but there are some remaining questions.  And most recently, some highly-enriched uranium particles were discovered by the IAEA and I think they are still investigating the source of that.  That all has not yet come out in IAEA reporting, so there is some small cloud hanging over Egypt's nuclear program.  I am not saying they are going for nuclear weapons, but they did some things that were not fully in accordance with the rules."

Fitzpatrick says the plutonium experiments were conducted during the past couple of decades and came to light about six or seven years ago.  And the evidence concerning the highly-enriched uranium particles was disclosed in the media within the last two years.

Egypt, Iraq and WMDs

On another issue, some analysts, including James Russell, say there have been reports of Egyptians in the 1980s helping Iraq with its chemical weapons research.

"There were also rumors of the Egyptians being involved in building a chemical plant that could possibly have made items that were used for chemical munitions," added Russell.  "But again, I don't think that there is any assessment out there today that suggests that the Egyptians are engaged in research or really have any interest in developing chemical weapons."

And Russell says Egypt does not have the necessary industrial base in the chemical sector to build chemical weapons.

"The truth of the matter is that almost all countries around the world - the United States and Russia included - everyone has come to the conclusion that these are not just terribly militarily useful weapons, or that it is a technology which really has limited use in the military arena," Russell explained.

Post Mubarak Concerns

Some experts have questioned whether a government replacing President Hosni Mubarak might reconsider some of Cairo's policies on weapons of mass destruction.

"In the chemical and nuclear arenas, the costs to the Egyptians of attempting such programs are significant," added Russell.  "And it just seems to me that any political leadership in Egypt, whatever its character, is going to have to look at these costs.  And they are a strong discouragement to them moving down this path to sort of reconsidering the decisions which have been looked at by previous political leadership.  I just do not see it."

Analysts say given Cairo's leadership in the Middle East, it is essential that Egypt remains free of weapons of mass destruction to guarantee stability in that part of the world.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid