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Case Closed on Egyptian Nuclear Research

By Greg Webb

Global Security Newswire

VIENNA — Egypt avoided a formal rebuke from the International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday, when the agency’s Board of Governor’s discussed recent disclosures that Cairo had conducted unreported nuclear research as recently as 2003. Board members issued statements regarding the matter but the group as a whole did not offer a formal message (see GSN, Feb. 14).

The lack of action reflected the views of many diplomats here that Egypt’s transgressions were relatively minor, and did not merit the same response given to South Korea at the board’s last meeting in November.

Two weeks ago, agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei circulated a report to the board finding “a number of failures by Egypt to report to the agency in accordance with its obligations.” Specifically, agency inspectors had uncovered nuclear research that had never been reported. The research involved irradiation of natural uranium and some plutonium reprocessing experiments. In addition, Egypt had not disclosed inventories of small amounts of enriched uranium and had produced 3 kilograms of uranium metal, the report says.

The agency found that South Korea, on the other hand, had failed to report more expansive research. The experiments included the enrichment of a small amount of uranium to near weapon-grade levels, plutonium reprocessing research, and the production of about 150 kilograms of uranium metal, according to an agency report.

At the November board meeting here, diplomats rejected a U.S. effort to refer South Korea to the U.N. Security Council for consideration, deciding instead to issue a written rebuke (see GSN, Nov. 26, 2004).

Yesterday, however, the board elected simply to hear statements on Egypt from members. The United States praised Egypt’s assistance with agency efforts to understand its past nuclear activities.

“In so cooperating, Egypt is demonstrating the appropriate means for resolving outstanding safeguards issues, specifically full cooperation with the IAEA on steps to address all concerns,” said the U.S. statement to the board. “This example is one that we believe all states should follow,” the statement added in an indirect prodding of Iran, whose nuclear program has dominated this week’s meeting (see related GSN story, today).

Similarly, the Nonaligned Movement — which is sometimes at odds with the United States in this forum — agreed in its statement “that the issue in question is not a matter of proliferation concern.”

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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Egypt

This article provides an overview of Egypt’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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