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IAEA helping Saudi Arabia, Egypt with nuke power

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RIYADH: The International Atomic Energy Agency is working with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to develop the infrastructure for a nuclear power program, according to its director-general.

Speaking during a virtual appearance at the International Energy Forum in Riyadh, Rafael Mariano Grossi said nuclear energy could be an important tool to address climate change in mitigation and in adaptation. 

“What’s special about nuclear is that it is proven, scalable and available,” said Grossi. 

Grossi noted that major producers of oil and gas are recognizing the benefit of atomic energy, and the Middle East region will use more nuclear power in the future to meet energy needs.

Riyadh officials had traveled to France and Russia and signed several transactions, among the establishment of atomic foundations in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is pursuing its open negotiations about the establishment of atomic foundations in front of the media. Despite that, it has been secretly looking for the establishment of a scientific atomic center by the co-operation of Pakistan, which can be associated with purchasing nuclear weapons from Pakistan.

Egypt has not engaged in significant efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Evidently, Egypt has decided to concentrate on increasing conventional forces, and chemical and biological weapons, rather than developing nuclear weapons.

The Egyptian nuclear program was launched in 1954. Egypt acquired its first nuclear reactor from the Soviet Union in 1961. The two-megawatt reactor was opened by President Gamal Abdel-Nasser at Inchass, in the Nile Delta. The Soviets controlled the disposal of this small nuclear research reactor’s spent fuel, which in any event was not capable of producing a significant amount of weapons-grade material. Egyptian nuclear ambitions were discarded following the 1967 defeat at the hands of Israel.

Egypt signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 but delayed ratifying it, presumably because the government had evidence that Israel had embarked on a nuclear weapons program. Subsequently, Egypt lost many of its nuclear experts who had to travel abroad to seek work opportunities. Some emigrated to Canada and others joined the Iraqi nuclear program.

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