MOSCOW — Egypt has accepted an offer by Russia to provide nuclear assistance and upgrade strategic relations. Egypt claims it discontinued its nuclear program last year.
Russian officials said Moscow has offered to supply expertise and
technology to Egypt's nuclear program including energy and research projects.
Egypt has accepted the Russian offer for nuclear cooperation, officials
said. They said Cairo and Moscow would soon sign a formal accord that could
include nuclear as well as defense and space cooperation.
Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency director Alexander Rumyantsev said
Cairo and Moscow were preparing what he termed a comprehensive cooperation
agreement on nuclear energy. Rumyantsev accompanied President Vladimir
Putin during his visit to Egypt on April 27, where he met President Hosni
Mubarak, Middle East Newsline reported.
In 2004, Egypt
appeared to shelve its nuclear energy program. Officials disagreed on the nature of Russia's assistance and the future direction of Egypt's program.
"The parties will discuss concluding technical details of the
document aimed at increasing bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy,"
Rumyantsev said upon arrival in Cairo.
Rumyantsev said Egypt has established a regional research and medical
center based on a Russian cyclotron. He said the two countries were ready to
install an accelerator to produce nuclear isotopes required for medicine.
The two countries were also discussing what officials said were
additional civilian nuclear projects. Officials said they included the
establishment of a nuclear-powered desalination plant.
"Russia and Egypt are not talking about building a nuclear plant,"
But later Putin's foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko appeared to
disagree. Prikhodko said Moscow has sought to renew supplies of military
equipment and spare parts to the Egyptian military, construct a nuclear
power station and cooperate in space.
Another member of Putin's delegation was Mikhail Margelov, chairman of
the Federation Council International Affairs Committee and regarded as a
presidential adviser. Margelov said Russian defense and energy contractors
have increased their activities in Egypt and other Arab countries.
"A new Middle East policy is an important part of Russia's mission in
Eurasia," Margelov said.