Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 26, 2015..
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO)
An Egyptian delegation traveled to Moscow on Sunday to discuss the building of the country’s first nuclear power plant with Russian aid, Egyptian media reported.
The high-level delegation will discuss the plant, which is projected to be operational in 12 years, The Cairo Post reported.
This is the first visit of its kind since Egypt and Russia signed two agreements last month in Cairo to finance the project Col. (res.) Shaul Shay, director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya, told The Jerusalem Post
that while this is a complicated process, it appears the Egyptian nuclear project is serious.
“Israel always warned that the agreement with Iran would lead to a nuclear Middle East and this is the first evidence that it is going to happen,” he said. “And don’t think Egypt will be the last.”
Asked if this is similar to the on and off again reports of Russia delivering its advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, Shay replied this appears not to be the case here.
“Everything that Egyptian President [Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi has promised, he has done.
He is a very serious guy,” he said, referring to Sisi’s multibillion- dollar project to extend the Suez Canal, which was opened in August.
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As of now, the Egyptian plan is to create a civilian nuclear program, but Shay warns that the same was said about Iran’s nuclear program.
Asked if Egypt’s nuclear program is more serious than other Arab countries, such as Jordan or Saudi Arabia, which are at the preliminary planning stages for creating their own nuclear power plants, Shay said Egypt is different because it “is a regional power. And nuclear power is a symbol of strength.”
It is not only a solution to the country’s electricity problem, but a “strategic response to Iran,” he asserted.
In an article Shay published last month at IDC titled, “The Egypt-Russia Nuclear Deal,” he argued that the Egyptian nuclear program could “potentially be diverted for weapons purposes.”
The nuclear deal is part of “the fast-growing strategic alliance between Egypt and Russia,” he wrote, adding that the countries have not been this close since the era of former
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