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Western policies based on pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program will fail because they disregard Israeli nuclear capabilities, which is "the first and greatest threat to security in the region," an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor categorically rejected that classification.
"If he can quote at least one occasion in which Israel has threatened any of its neighbors with the alleged nuclear weapon, then his statements would gain him credibility," Palmor said. "Unless he produces evidence to support his claims, these kinds of remarks are completely out of line."
Spokesman Hossam Zaki, in a declaration to editors accredited with the ministry, said Egypt's position on disarmament and nonproliferation aimed to safeguard Egyptian security and to address the threats that undermine security and stability in the Middle East, according to Egypt's official Middle East News Agency.
Cairo sought to realize the aims of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to guarantee the security of all states, whereas possession of nuclear weapons by some countries disrupted the balance of power and encouraged other nations to address this imbalance by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, he said.
Zaki called on the international community to justly and indiscriminately apply the Non-Proliferation Treaty that requires states to comply with its provisions, and asked it to refrain from the adoption of double standards in pressuring states to abandon their programs, he said.
An Egyptian official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Cairo would prefer that Israel pursue diplomacy, rather than a military option, to address Iran's nuclear program.
In a meeting on Sunday with his Philippine counterpart, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President Hosni Mubarak said Egypt opposed any proliferation in the region and that efforts aimed at shedding light on the Iranian nuclear program must be accompanied by parallel efforts to deal with the Israeli program, according to a report in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram on Sunday.
Mubarak, who turned 81 on Monday, will soon host Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss a range of issues, including the diplomatic process and threats to the region.
Tensions between Egypt and Iran have been particularly tense recently, with Cairo accusing a 49-member terrorist cell with links to Hizbullah of plotting to carry out attacks in the country.