US signals it won’t oppose Russia-Egypt deal on nuclear reactors

State Department says US would not oppose a nuclear deal for peaceful purposes.

February 11, 2015 18:34
2 minute read.

Egyptian band plays Russian national anthem

Egyptian band plays Russian national anthem


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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that his country would help build “a whole new nuclear power industry” in Egypt, Russian media reported.

“We discussed today the possibility of cooperation in nuclear power engineering,” said Putin, RT news reported.

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“If final decisions are made, they will relate not only to the construction of a nuclear power plant but also to the creation of a whole new nuclear power industry in Egypt.”

Russia would also aid in providing staff and scientific research, added Putin.

The two leaders signed “a memorandum of understanding to build the first nuclear plant in [the northern city of] El-Dabaa,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who pointed out that it would be used to meet the country’s electricity needs.

Egypt and Russia also agreed to the establishment of a free trade zone between the Russian- led Eurasian Economic Union and the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal area, said the report.

Putin also said the countries “agreed to step up our efforts in combating terrorism.”

The US would not oppose a nuclear deal for peaceful purposes, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.

“We support peaceful nuclear power programs as long as obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Egypt is a signatory, and obligations to the IAEA are fully met and the highest international standards regulating security, nonproliferation, export controls, and physical security are strictly followed,” she said.

Asked directly if that meant the US position did not oppose a Russian-Egyptian nuclear deal, Psaki responded: “Correct. We don’t have details on it.”

Putin’s two-day visit to Egypt will have a significant impact on the two sides, both economically and politically, Egyptian analysts said.

“Putin’s visit has economic significance for both countries,” said Hamdy Elgamal, editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram.

“Egypt needs nuclear technology, investments from Russia and also military support from Russia. The two countries have basically reached agreements in these realms. Russia needs cooperation with Egypt in terms of agricultural products so as to cope with sanctions from the US and other Western countries steadily,” said Elgamal.

“Egypt is a starting point and portal for Russia when it is to sell its products to Africa.

For Russia, it’s suitable to invest in Egypt, especially on the project of the new Suez Canal,” said Elhamy Meligy, a columnist with Al-Ahram.

During Putin’s visit, an embarrassing moment took place when the Egyptian army band badly misplayed the Russian national anthem.

Putin’s facial gestures displayed discomfort, but he was able to control himself for the duration of the melody.

Separately, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, who recently was hosted by the State Department, claimed he met with a White House official. Dardery, a former member of the Egyptian parliament, was in the US last month with Brotherhood leaders and supporters.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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