IAEA chief in Cairo to discuss Egypt nuke file

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is prepared to “cooperate” with Egypt to help it develop a  peaceful nuclear program, according to IAEA Director Yukiya Amano. Amano’s remarks came during his visit to Cairo on Tuesday, during which he met Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit and Energy Minister Hasan Younis to discuss the reactivation of Egypt’s dormant Inshas nuclear reactor.

At a joint press conference with Abul-Gheit following the meeting, Amano announced that the IAEA had suggested sending a delegation to Egypt to evaluate the project, adding that the IAEA was working closely with Egypt and supported its efforts to attain nuclear power.

“We spoke about how the IAEA could assist in the development of Egypt’s nuclear program in light of Egypt’s desire to build its first nuclear power plant,” said Abul-Gheit. “We also came to an agreement with the director over how his agency could help Egypt renovate and reopen the Inshas reactor.”

The Foreign Minister went on to say that he had discussed with Amano the results of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference held in New York in late May.

When asked if Egypt would back down from demands that Israel sign on to the treaty, Abul-Gheit said: “We cannot stop making efforts in this arena, and I can’t imagine that anyone in Egypt wants us to stop demanding that Israel be subject to oversight by the international community–in this case, the IAEA.”

Responding to a question about steps the IAEA could take to shut down Israeli nuclear facilities, Amano said: “These steps are tied to the NPT Review Conference’s decision to hold an international conference in support of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).” He added that his agency would monitor the implementation of NPT Review Conference resolutions, and notify relevant international institutions of instances of non-compliance.

Regarding Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA following the adoption of the latest round of sanctions in early June, Amano stated: “Iran has recently notified us that it has declared two agency inspectors who had been sent to Iran to monitor the uranium enrichment process persona non grata. However, we have not been officially notified by the Iranian government of a reduction in the level of cooperation with the agency.”

Energy Minister Younis, for his part, held discussions with the IAEA director focusing on how the agency could help train personnel to develop and run Egypt’s nascent nuclear program. According to Younis, the Egyptian electricity sector had cooperated in a transparent fashion with the IAEA throughout the program’s development, especially in the establishment of the Egyptian Nuclear Law, which was issued in March.

Amano congratulated Egypt on the passing of the law–which stipulates the creation of an independent security apparatus for the country’s nuclear program–going on to express his complete support for the steps Egypt was taking to achieve nuclear power.

During his visit, Amano also met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. Moussa’s Chief of Staff, Hisham Youssef, stated that Amano and Mousa had discussed ways that the IAEA could cooperate with the Arab League, particularly in the wake of the recent NPT Review Conference and amid preparations for a scheduled IAEA meeting in September.

Concerning the NPT Review Conference’s call for a 2012 summit in the Middle East to discuss ways to rid the region of WMD, Youssef said that Mousa and Amano had engaged in discussions of the matter, which were still “in their early stages.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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