This is a discussion on Egypt's Secret Nuclear Weapons Program within the Missiles & WMDs forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Egypt could develop nuclear weapons in wake of the ouster of ...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Egypt could develop nuclear weapons in wake of the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
Officials said the intelligence community has been drafting memorandums ordered by President Barack Obama of the repercussions of the ouster of the 82-year-old Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years.
They said Mubarak's successor, whether from the military or the Islamist-dominated opposition, could order the acceleration of Egypt's secret nuclear weapons program.
"There is significant evidence that Egypt has been preparing a nuclear weapons option for at least 25 years and maintains strategic relations with countries that have broken out over the last few years," an official said.
[On Feb. 15, the administration of President Barack Obama said it intends to provide Egypt in 2012 with the same level of military and civilian assistance, $1.5 billion, as during this year. Officials said the administration was also prepared to examine additional aid to Egypt during 2011.]
Officials said Egypt has acquired nuclear weapons technology and perhaps material from such countries as China, North Korea and Pakistan. They said the Mubarak regime also pursued other weapons of mass destruction programs, including biological and chemical.
The United States has known of Egypt's secret nuclear weapons program since at least 1986. But officials acknowledged that successive administration decided not to disclose the Egyptian efforts in an attempt to maintain U.S. strategic relations with the largest Arab state and one at peace with Israel.
"The assessment of the intelligence community was that Mubarak could be counted upon to prevent a [nuclear] breakout, but now he's going and everything changes," the official said.
In 2010, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asserted that Egypt conducted 16 secret nuclear experiments from 1990 until 2003. The agency was said to have raised questions over the discovery of enriched uranium in northern Egypt and urged the Mubarak regime to disclose data. So far, Cairo has denied any nuclear weapons efforts.
One source for the U.S. intelligence community on Egypt's WMD program was a convicted Egyptian, Abdul Qadr Helmy. Helmy, a rocket scientist and also an American citizen, was arrested in 1989 and charged with seeking to acquire U.S. missile technology for Egypt.
President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference at the conclusion of the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. AP/Charles Dharapak
"Without the activities of Dr. Helmy and his co-conspirators in procuring restricted technology," the Defense Intelligence Agency said in a memorandum in 1989, "completion of the Condor missile program is doubtful. Dr. Helmy's apparent willingness to provide critical materials necessary for the production of the Condor missile was important to the long term goals of establishing an indigenous ballistic missile production capability in Argentina, Egypt and Iraq."
Helmy, according to a U.S. Customs Service memorandum, told investigators that Egypt maintained a nuclear weapons development program in cooperation with Pakistan. He said the director of the Egyptian program was Brig. Gen. Ahmed Nashet, and that uranium was being sent to Pakistan for enrichment to bomb-grade levels.
Another Egyptian program, Helmy said, stipulated the procurement of uranium from France as well as the development Cobalt-60, an isotope regarded as suitable for a radioactive warhead. Helmy, who had been given high-level security clearance from the Defense Department and sentenced to 45 months, later denied that he provided such a report.
"The U.S. has long known about but tolerated because of Egypt's central role in both the Middle East peace talks and counter-terrorism," said Robert Windrem, an investigative producer for the U.S. television network NBC.
Windrem, who has been investigating Egypt's WMD programs, said Congress also did not make a fuss. He quoted a congressional expert that Egypt was given preferential treatment over all of its Arab neighbors.
"If they were any other Arab state, we would be all over them every day on these issues," Windrem quoted the expert as saying.
Argentina and Russia were also said to have helped Egypt's nuclear program. In the 1980s, Argentina helped build a 22-megawatt research reactor at Inshas north of Cairo while the Kremlin supplied a cyclotron accelerator, required for uranium enrichment. Inshas was said to have been designed to eventually produce weapons-grade plutonium.
Officials said the intelligence community has been concerned that any successor to Mubarak would accelerate Egypt's nuclear program. They said Egypt was believed to have sufficient sources of technology to eventually complete a nuclear warhead as well as a missile of at least 1,000 kilometers.
Meanwhile, Egypt's intelligence community has assessed that Al Qaida was using the North African state as a transit point to Iraq and the Gulf.
Officials said the Egyptian intelligence community has concluded that Al Qaida's network in North Africa was using Egypt to shuttle operatives between the region and the rest of the Middle East. They said the most utilized route was between the North African states of Algeria through Egypt and to Syria and Iraq.
"There's certainly no terrorist organization in Egypt, Al Qaida or other," former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib Adli said. "But there are attempts to push elements that have been trained abroad or to attract and recruit the communion of the information through the network."
Adli, replaced amid massive civil unrest in early February, said the Al Qaida network, known as Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, has been sending operatives from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia through Egypt. He said many of these operatives were assigned to fight the pro-Western government in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We have uncovered a group of motivated suicide bombers from abroad to Egypt," Al Adli said. "They are from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and were taken to other countries, including to Iraq to join the so-called Islamic State of Iraq."
Al Adli said Al Qaida operates three major centers in the Middle East. He identified them as the Gaza Strip, Iraq and Morocco, for which Egypt served as a key transit point.
"These are stations for this organization, from where orders are issued for operations in this or that country, including Egypt," Al Adli said.
Officials said Al Qaida was also believed to use Egypt as a transit point for operations in the Gaza Strip. They said at least one Al Qaida militia in the Gaza Strip was conducting attacks in Egypt, including the suicide bombing of a Coptic church in January.
"We are sure that there are dozens of elements loyal to Al Qaida in the Gaza Strip, and elements of them have been involved in previous terrorist attempts in Egypt," Al Adli said.
In an interview with Egypt's state-owned Al Ahram daily on Jan. 25, the interior minister provided details of an Al Qaida cell in Egypt. Al Adli said Egypt arrested 19 Al Qaida operatives aligned with the Army of Islam, an Al Qaida-aligned militia based in the Gaza Strip. The detainees were said to have included nationals from Libya and Tunisia.
"Al Qaida has become a symbol for the majority of terrorist groups and an umbrella to move under and the security services operate on the global pursuit of the organization and its components," Al Adli said.
The minister said Al Qaida operative shuttle from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through the Palestinian tunnel network along the border of the eastern Sinai. He said the Hamas regime has sought to counter Al Qaida presence.
The Army of Islam cell in Egypt had been assigned to target and bomb churches and synagogues, officials said. One of the Al Qaida suspects, an Egyptian national, was said to have told Egyptian interrogators that he arrived in the Gaza Strip in 2008 and was assigned to photograph likely targets in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.
Officials said Egyptians have been recruited by Al Qaida, including AQIM, through the Internet. They said Al Qaida relays instructions and training through encrypted messages.
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Egypt did have a program, and they should be considered capable of making a bomb.
Here some info its old but solid.
Egypt has not engaged in significant efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Evidently Egypt has decided to concentrate on increasing conventional forces, and chemical and biological weapons, rather than developing nuclear weapons.
The Egyptian nuclear program was launched in 1954. Egypt acquired its first nuclear reactor from the Soviet Union in 1961. The two megawatt reactor was opened by President Gamal Abdel-Nasser at Inchass, in the Nile Delta. The Soviets controlled the disposal of this small nuclear research reactor's spent fuel, which in any event was not capable of producing a significant amount of weapons-grade material. Egyptian nuclear ambitions were discarded following the 1967 defeat at the hands of Israel. Egypt signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 but delayed ratifying it, presumably because the government had evidence that Israel had embarked on a nuclear weapons program. Subsequently, Egypt lost many of its nuclear experts who had to travel abroad to seek work opportunities. Some emigrated to Canada and others joined the Iraqi nuclear program.
At the same time, however, serious work on developing nuclear potential designated for use in power engineering, agriculture, medicine, biotechnology, and genetics continues. Industrial incorporation of four explored uranium deposits is planned, including the extraction and enrichment of uranium for subsequent use as fuel for atomic power plants.
In 1975 the United States agreed in principle on a program to supply Egypt with power reactors. The US promised to provide Egypt with eight nuclear power plants and the necessary cooperation agreements were signed. The plan was subject to a trilateral safeguards agreement signed by the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Egypt. In the late 1970s, the US unilaterally revised the bilateral agreements and introduced new conditions that were unacceptable to the Egyptian government. As a result, the decision was taken to ratify the NPT, with one goal in mind � the implementation of a nuclear power program.
Although financing problems stalled construction of power reactors from the United States, Egypt ratified the NPT in 1981, in order to be able to conclude agreements with other countries for the construction of atomic energy-production facilities. Before his assassination in 1981, President Anwar Sadat announced plans to build two nuclear power stations along the Mediterranean coast. These plans, though, were subsequently shelved. There are [poorly attested] reports that Egypt is planning a Chinese-made power reactor, variously assessed at between 300 MW and 600 MW, that could have the capacity to produce material for the production of as many as four nuclear warheads a month. Egypt is believed to be seeking joint nuclear weapons research with Syria and Saudi Arabia to defray costs and allow Fgypt to continue its conventional military buildup.
In early 1992, a deal was made for Argentina to deliver one more reactor with a capacity of 22 megawatts to Egypt. The contract signed in 1991 for the delivery to Egypt of a Russian MGD-20 cyclotron accelerator remains in force. Since 1990 Egypt has been a member of the Arab Power Engineering Organization uniting 11 countries. A number of Egyptian scientific projects are being carried out under the aegis of the IAEA. There are bilateral agreements in the area of the peaceful use of atomic energy with Germany, the United States, Russia, India, China, and Argentina. There are, moreover, agreements with Great Britain and India to provide assistance in training national cadres for scientific research and work on the country's atomic enterprises.
Egypt has subscribed to the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Since 1974, Egypt has taken the initiative of proposing to render the Middle East nuclear-weapons free zone, calling all countries in the region without exception to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In April 1990, Egypt took the initiative to render the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference established a multinational mechanism to work on making the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone. This mechanism, however, stalled three years ago as a result of the Israeli position. Egypt hosted in April 1996 the conference for signing the declaration on rendering Africa a nuclear-weapons free zone.
In late 2004 and early 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency was investigating previously undisclosed experiments performed by Egyptian scientists involving uranium metal.
Sources and Resources
Egyptian Nuclear Bibliography: Open Literature Citations by Mark Gorwitz
Egypt's Budding Nuclear Program The Risk Report Volume 2 Number 5 (September-October 1996) -- Argentina is building a nuclear reactor in Egypt that will give Cairo its first access to bomb quantities of fissile material, possibly enough plutonium to make one nuclear weapon per year.
Egypt The Nuclear Potential of Individual Countries Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Problems of Extension Appendix 2 Russian Federation Foreign Intelligence Service 6 April 1995
To those who demand that Israel dismantle its nuclear weapons, do remember 1973, 1967, and previous attempts to destroy Israel. Do also remember the regular statements made by various Islamic spokesmen to drive Israel into the sea. Now if Israel became nuclear free, how long do you reckon it would remain a viable entity. If the region is nuclear free, apart from Israel, there would be peace if those other nations would accept such, if Israel became nuclear free, it would cease to exist. The West would bluster about but do very little to help, because of the effect on oil from the region. So Israel really is fairly much on it's own, and when your a very tiny country surrounded by much bigger more populous ones intent on your destruction, you had better have a card up your sleeve, and a nuclear arsenal is Israels card. 45 years as a nuclear power without using them despite many provocations is a good record for any such nation.
So Israel really is fairly much on it's own, and when your a very tiny country surrounded by much bigger more populous ones intent on your destruction,
What nonsense! Israel is not on its own as it has the unconditional support of the world's sole super power, which has been guaranteeing Israel's security for decades, not to mention the fact that since 1967 Israel has been the dominant power in the region. And there are no larger neighbours intent on the destruction of Israel, that line is constantly harped on by certain Israeli's to justify their actions. The argument that a tiny, helpless Israel is surrounded by evil Arab neighbours bent on its complete destruction doesn't hold true anymore. The Arabs have more important things to do, their rulers are more concerned with regime survival and preserving their wealth and are more concerned with one another than they are with Israel - they have gotten use to the fact that Israel is the dominant power in the region but would be very uncomfortable if other Arabs became too militarily powerful. Israel off course is unpopular with the average Arab on the street but this is not due to a desire to ''exterminate'' Israeli's or to 'destroy' Israel but more to do with the fact that Israel, in complete violation of international law, continues to occupy land it does not own and gets away with it!!! Has it not occurred to you that though the main reason Israel went nuclear during the Cold War was to safeguard itself against the Arabs and also against the Soviet Union, in more recent times, having the bomb has enabled Israel to act with impunity against its Arab neighbours.
Also 1967 and 1973 was NOT an attempt to destroy Israel. Contrary to popular myth, Israel was itching for a fight in1967 to weaken the Arabs before they got militarily stronger and foolish action by Nasser gave Israel an excuse to strike first. The 1973 war was also not an attempt to destroy Israel! Syria launched the war to regain the Golan and gain some political advantages. Egypt launched the war to regain the Sinai and in the hope that defeating the Israeli's would jump start the stalled peace talks. Neither country went to war in the hope or expectation that their troops would end up holding victory parades in Tel Aviv and Haifa. And what previous attempts were there to destroy Israel, surely you don't mean the 1956 war when Israel plotted with France and Britain to strike at Egypt?