By Marwa Awad
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is not seeking to acquire nuclear arms and wants to rid the region of such weapons, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday.
A May 2008 U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks quoted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as warning U.S. officials Egypt might develop nuclear arms if Iran obtained them.
In 2007, Mubarak announced the resumption of a decades-old nuclear program for generating electricity and the bid for Egyptâ€™s first nuclear power station is due in weeks.
â€œEgypt does not seek to get nuclear arms because they would not be used and because their costs are huge. But we seek to rid the region of nuclear arms,â€ Gheit told reporters on the sidelines of the ruling partyâ€™s conference.
Iran and Egypt severed ties in 1980 after Iranâ€™s Islamic Revolution and Egyptâ€™s recognition of Israel. They are still at odds over issues such as the Middle East peace process and ties with Israel and the United States.
Another WikiLeaks release dated July 2009 quoted Egyptâ€™s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as telling U.S. officials Iran was harboring extremists.
In April, Egypt convicted 26 men it said were linked to Lebanonâ€™s Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, accusing them of planning attacks in Egypt. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the verdicts â€œpolitical and unjust.