WikiLeaks: Egypt considering nuclear arms if Iran gets them

US cable: States in the region "terrified" of a nuclear Iran; head of Egypt's intelligence service offers assistance in taking on Iran

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 6, 2010 15:00
2 minute read.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. AP 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

CAIRO — Egypt's president would consider turning his country into a nuclear power if Iran acquired atomic weapons, leaked US diplomatic cables revealed.

A cable from May 2008, one of hundreds of secret diplomatic documents released by the WikiLeaks website over the past week, described how President Hosni Mubarak told a US Congressional delegation that everyone in the region was "terrified" of a nuclear Iran.

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In a meeting nearly a year later with the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Suleiman does not shy away from describing Iran as a threat to the entire region.

He described Iran in an April 2009 cable as "very active" in Egypt, attempting to recruit Sinai Bedouins and smuggle arms and money into the Gaza Strip — measures he said Egypt was successfully combating.

The intelligence chief, who is Egypt's chief interlocutor with the United States and neighboring Israel, added that he was conducting countermeasures of his own against Iranian influence, including recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria.

Egypt and Iran have had fraught relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and despite occasional tentative efforts at rapprochement, ties remain severed and the two regard each other as regional rivals.

A street in Teheran is also named after Khaled Islambouli, the assassin of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Suleiman offered the US Egyptian assistance in taking on Iran around the region.

"If you want Egypt to cooperate with you on Iran, we will ... it would take a big burden off our shoulders," he said, according to the cable.


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