If there’s anything that’s bound to make the Muslim Brotherhood a better neighbor in the region, it’s weapons of mass destruction. And while Egypt may be on the brink of starvation, that’s okay. Hunger is no obstacle to Islamist fanatics, not in Iran and or Egypt. “Let them eat plutonium” is the new slogan.
“…at a July 4, 2006 joint meeting of the foreign affairs, Arab, defense, and national security committees of the Egyptian parliament, Dr. Hamdi Hassan, spokesperson of the MB parliamentary caucus, made clear that his organization was interested not merely in using nuclear power for meeting Egypt’s energy needs, but in creating an Egyptian nuclear deterrent: ‘We [Egyptians] are ready to starve in order to own a nuclear weapon that will represent a real deterrent and will be decisive in the Arab-Israeli conflict.’”
And in 2009, the global Muslim Brotherhood’s senior jurist of Islamic law, Egyptian cleric Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, broadcast a sermon on Qatar TV, in which he declared that Muslim nations must acquire nuclear weapons “in order to strike terror in our enemies.”
Of course once Juan Cole gets done translating the Sheikh, it will turn out that he really said that Muslim nations must acquire nuclear weapons for the peaceful uses of mankind.
How close is Egypt to having a bomb?
Almost completely overlooked in Mursi’s warp-speed takeover of total state power in Egypt since his election victory, was that on July 8, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MoEE) handed him a feasibility study for the creation of a nuclear power plant at El-Dabaa in the Delta — possibly the first of four nuclear power plants around the country, the last of which would be brought online by 2025, according to a plan announced by MoEE in spring 2011. (Under the plan, El-Debaa would reach criticality—become operational–in 2019.) While Mursi has not yet announced his decision on whether to proceed with the projects, a number of international companies from Canada, China, France, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. have expressed interest in the bidding for them. In his trip to Beijing just prior to heading for Tehran, Mursi requested $3 billion for “power plants” from the Chinese, according to the geostrategic analysis firm Stratfor. Meanwhile, the website israelhayom.com reported on August 30 that the previous day Mursi had told a group of Egyptian expatriates living in China that he was considering the revival of Egypt’s nuclear power program.
And for all we know Egypt is much closer than we think.
It is revealing that Egypt continued to nurture clandestinely what seem to have been more dangerous nuclear desires. In 2004, the IAEA discovered traces of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) at Egypt’s facilities, and in 2005 it determined that Egypt’s nuclear authority had not disclosed either the import of uranium and or irradiation experiments that had taken place from 1990 to 2003. (The items found suggested at least the possibility of a secret uranium enrichment program that could be used to produce weapons.) Subsequently, the IAEA’s then-director, Mohamed ElBaradei — the Egyptian lawyer who won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize — did not take action against Egypt for its covert behavior, which the agency treated as minor.
The IAEA found still more traces of highly-enriched uranium from unreported activity at Inshas in 2007 and 2008. That discovery prompted Pierre Goldschmidt of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to write in 2009, “One should remember that the HEU particles found in Iran originated from illicit nuclear trade with Pakistan and were connected with unreported uranium enrichment activities.”
A Sunni nuclear power will balance a Shiite nuclear power and the first thing that Egypt, low on funds, will do with its technology is begin exporting nuclear weapons.