Egypt president Hosni Mubarak has expressed concern at Iran’s rising nuclear mission, insinuating that the country’s nuclear capacity threatens to cause unrest in the Arab world. His comments come a week after an Iranian envoy’s visit to Cairo was postponed.
President Mubarak who has been deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, like many western countries and Israel, suspect Iran is using its civilian nuclear program to hide efforts to develop a nuclear bomb.
“Our celebration [Ramadan] comes as our Arab and Muslim world faces difficult times. In addition to the problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia, Mubarak warned new dangers are emerging in the Gulf region and threaten its stability,” Mubarak was quoted by AFP as saying.
According to analysts, Iran’s nuclear program is one of the most polarizing issues in one of the world’s most volatile regions. While American and European officials believe Tehran is planning to build nuclear weapons, Iran’s leadership says that its goal in developing a nuclear program is to generate electricity without dipping into the oil supply it prefers to sell abroad, and to provide fuel for medical reactors.
The 82 year old Mubarak who has been at the helm of affairs for almost three decades in the north African country believes this development posed new dangers to the Arab league.
Marking the Night of Destiny on Sunday to commemorate the holy month of Ramadan, Mubarak said Iran nuclear ambitions adds to the problems in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia, worries Arab nations.
Some experts believe Iran could produce bomb-grade fuel for at least one nuclear weapon within a year, but would most likely need two to five years to manufacture a workable atomic bomb.
International inspectors said in May that Iran has now produced a stockpile of nuclear fuel that experts say would be enough, with further enrichment, to make two nuclear weapons.
Mubarak’s comments on the dangers of Iran’s nuclear plan do not help ties between Tehran and Cairo which has been severed since 1980 in the wake of the Islamic revolution in Iran, and Egypt’s recognition of Israel.
Last week Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s visit to Cairo was postponed over comments criticizing the role of some Arab leaders in facilitating peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
Mubarak is the longest-serving Egyptian head of state since Muhammad Ali Pasha. According to the BBC, he has survived six assassination attempts.
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