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IAEA ready to help Egypt with nuclear programme

by Staff Writers
Cairo (AFP) June 22, 2010
The International Atomic Energy Agency is ready to help Egypt in the construction of nuclear power stations, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said on Tuesday during a visit to Cairo.

"The agency is happy to cooperate with Egypt in its nuclear energy programme," Amano told reporters, adding that Egypt was close to finalising the project and its location.

President Hosni Mubarak declared in 2007 that Egypt was ready to relaunch its nuclear energy programme, which started with the Soviet Union in 1961 but was frozen following the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

Egypt has one research reactor at Inshas northeast of Cairo and plans to build four stations under the supervision of the IAEA.

Amano said his agency had proposed to send a mission to Egypt, without elaborating.

For his part, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said he and Amano had discussed "ways in which the IAEA could help" his country with its nuclear programme.

"We have agreed on the stages with which the agency can help Egypt to relaunch its nuclear reactor at Inshas," he said.

Egypt, which ratified the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1981, seeks a nuclear weapons-free Middle East and regularly criticises Israel for its undeclared nuclear arsenal.

However, Cairo has also said it will not sign a voluntary additional protocol to the NPT that would allow more intrusive inspections, saying it could make it too dependent on other countries for nuclear energy needs.

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